As schools officially break up for the summer, this year’s virtual Summer Reading Challenge is moving up a gear. This year’s theme to keep children reading is the Silly Squad, and Derby Libraries are launching six weeks of fun online events, ideal for families while we get our libraries ready for re-opening.

Every weekday from Monday 20th July to Friday 28th August, Derby Libraries will be showing engaging online videos that are all free to watch at home. With humorous readings from John Kirk, exciting performances and crafts from AVP theatre, and storytelling from Alison Solomon, there is a host of events to inspire your children to get reading this summer. The Summer Reading Challenge brings families together through reading, and these events promise to enthuse and widen children’s reading choices throughout these holidays.

John Kirk has become a firm favourite with family audiences in Derby Libraries over the past few years. He is a performance storyteller who brings stories to life in fresh and imaginative ways, engaging children with his voice and facial expressions. Well-known for his humorous retellings of stories, he will be performing traditional fairy tales including Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel and The Gingerbread Man.

Join AVP Theatre for a mixture of folk and original tales from storyteller, Amy, and her wonderful cast of puppets. AVP Theatre create their own puppets and specialise in family-friendly theatre performances. Each show will be accompanied by a mini ‘making video’ showing you how to make one of the puppets from the performance, and a second video with instructions on making a puppet theatre. You can also download and colour in outlines for making the puppets as well.

Another favourite, local storyteller Alison Solomon, will be retelling one of Aesop’s most loved fables, The Ant and the Grasshopper. She first worked with Derby Libraries when she devised and presented a Jamaican poetic storytelling performance as part of Pear Tree Library Centenary in 2016. Since then she has performed as part of Derby Poetry Festival and entertained school groups visiting Normanton Library as part of its launch celebrations last year.

You can find a full schedule of videos, and details of how to watch online or on the Derby Libraries Facebook page.

The Summer Reading Challenge is produced by The Reading Agency and delivered by libraries across the country. Derby Libraries are supporting the scheme by making a wide range of children’s books available digitally through the BorrowBox app, as audiobooks and eBooks for young library members. Well-known authors include Konnie Huq, Cressida Cowell, Eoin Colfer and Jacqueline Wilson.

In partnership with Harper Collins UK, Derby Libraries now have a further 28 children’s eBook titles available FREE for simultaneous and unlimited access, from now until the end of August. This means that your child will have an even wider selection to choose from. These books can be found on the BorrowBox homepage under Top Summer Reading Challenge Reads, and are suitable for all ages, from picture books for the very young to more confident readers. Authors include Michael Morpugo, Shane Hegarty, Holly Smale and David Walliams.

Councillor Robin Wood, Derby City Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Tourism, said:

“I am delighted that Derby Libraries have worked hard to continue the Summer Reading Challenge as an online event this year. It gives an excellent boost to children’s reading over the summer months, and the content provided by local storytellers engages and inspires children and families across Derby to keep on reading.”

Joining in with the Summer Reading Challenge is easy:

  • If your child is not a member of Derby Libraries, sign them up for a temporary membership. This will give them access to the eLibrary and the Borrowbox app and you can convert their membership to full when the libraries reopen.
  • Sign them up for the challenge at www.sillysquad.org.uk. It’s free, safe, and has a personal profile area to set reading goals, review books, view book recommendations and get rewards. There will also be themed activities, games and quizzes, as well as rewards and unlockable content with new things to enjoy each week. Everyone who completes their challenge receives a free downloadable certificate.
  • Look out for Derby Libraries’ special free digital events at inderby.org.uk/sillysquad

Currently staff are working hard behind the scenes to get everything in place ready to reopen the libraries in a way which is safe and practical. Dates for reopening are yet to be confirmed, but we are looking forward to welcoming members back, and the libraries’ website at inderby.org.uk/libraries will be updated as soon as details are available.