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The University of Sussex and Jubilee Library team-up to launch Summer Reading Challenge 2016

Panel discussion at the Big Read event

The Big Read event in Brighton's Jubliee Library

Young people of all ages are being encouraged to read for fun as much as they can this summer - parents/carers are also urged to drop into a local library to find out how they can support them – and why reading for pleasure matters!

The University of Sussex has teamed up with Brighton’s Jubilee Library to put on the ‘Reading For Fun Changes Lives!’ event in celebration of reading for pleasure and to launch ‘the Big Friendly Read, Summer Reading Challenge 2016’ on Saturday 16th July across Brighton & Hove Libraries.

Reading experts will be giving practical advice on how to inspire and get children reading over the summer and will be sharing fascinating evidence that shows the benefits of independent reading: the more children read, especially ‘back-to-back’ reading of whole books, the more they improve not only their vocabulary and reading skills, but their cognitive abilities, supporting their learning across the curriculum.

The free event will feature multi award-winning Brighton-based author, Juno Dawson, writer of dark teen thrillers, such as Hollow Pike and Cruel Summer. Dawson’s first non-fiction book, ‘Being a Boy’ also tackled puberty, sex and relationships in a frank and funny fashion and she will be holding a Q and A and book-signing at the Jubilee Library event. The event will also celebrate 100 years of the world’s greatest storyteller, Roald Dahl – by encouraging children to read his books ‘back to back’. Collected Works CIC, an award winning reader development organisation based in Brighton, will lead children in a Roald Dahl Read Along.

The idea of ‘back to back’ reading comes from new University of Sussex research in which teachers asked 365 Year 8 students (predominantly reluctant readers or those who find reading a challenge) to read two, challenging novels, back-to-back in just one term. Young readers made a phenomenal 16 months’ progress on average in their reading comprehension level, with students overall gaining an average of 8.5 months (measured by standardised pre and post-comprehension tests).

Dr Julia Sutherland, Principal Investigator of the ‘Fast read, back-to-back’ Reading project at the University of Sussex, said: “It is extremely important that we encourage parents and carers to continue their children’s reading over the school holidays to prevent the recognised ‘dip’ in their reading skills when not in school.

“There is a wealth of research which shows that extended reading ‘makes children smarter’ and our own study shows that ‘back to back’ reading of just two challenging novels can greatly improve the reading skills of adolescents, especially weaker readers."

Cllr Alan Robins, chair of the Economic Development & Culture Committee, said: “Encouraging children and young people to read is a good foundation for a lifelong love of literature. Everyone in the family can benefit from listening to children’s views on stories and helping to keep books a central part of the summer activities. The city’s libraries have a wide range of books suitable for all ages and the popular Summer Reading Challenge is a great way to give children motivation to keep reading during the summer break. We can all remember a favourite story from when we were young, maybe this summer children in the city will find a book to fire their imagination for decades to come.”

The Summer Reading Challenge takes place annually during the summer holidays. You can sign up at your local library, then read at least six library books of your choice to collect special collector cards and other incentives along the way – all for FREE.

By: Lynsey Ford
Last updated: Wednesday, 27 July 2016