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Reading challenges: How to design and run them to make them work

Added 29 Sep 2021 | Updated 05 Oct 21

The purpose of this report is to explore the extent to which reading challenges have an impact on children’s reading enjoyment, behaviours and skills, and the key considerations when developing reading challenges, based on previous evidence as well as surveys of 192 teachers and librarians conducted in summer 2020.

The report will also present some key recommendations for designing reading challenges, based on the data from the teacher surveys. These findings were used to inform the development of a series of new reading challenges created by the National Literacy Trust in partnership with the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS) in 2020/21.

Key recommendations

  • Consider how reading challenges utilising rewards and recognition can recognise participation and avoid signifying failure.
  • While challenges can be motivating for children because of the competitive nature, careful consideration is needed so that challenges are not too competitive and all children can participate.
  • From a practical point of view, reading challenges should be ongoing but one challenge should not be too long. A series of challenges could work better than one long challenge throughout the year.
  • A reading challenge should provide optional resources for teachers.
  • Reading challenges should have appealing themes and book lists.

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