Step into the 'creepy house' summer reading challenge

The latest attempt to turn a reluctant younger generation on to books was unveiled at the Scottish Parliament last week.

The "summer reading challenge" comes courtesy of the Reading Agency, which runs the initiative throughout the UK and has done so in Scotland for the past two years.

Growth of 13 per cent last year means that nearly 40,000 children are now positively engaging in reading, research showed.

The aim is to encourage four- to 11-year-olds to join their library and read six books during the summer break, a time when literacy skills are said to dip.

The scheme is supported by Tesco Bank and local libraries. It has also won the backing of the new children's laureate Malorie Blackman, who has pledged to use her role to turn young people on to libraries as well as reading.

"For those who have, libraries are a bonus," she declared at last week's launch. "For those who have not, they are a blessing."

According to the Reading Agency, 40 per cent of young people say that they do not enjoy reading. Miranda McKearney, the agency's founder-director, said: "Research shows that to become literate, it is vital that children enjoy reading."

The challenge attempts to do this each year by devising a theme to motivate young people to read for pleasure - this year it is the "creepy house".

The agency claims that the challenge increases children's reading confidence and enjoyment, and is especially important for boys and disadvantaged children.

Grants are available to local authorities to promote the challenge through a range of activities, such as animal-handling workshops and events with entertainers, designed to generate excitement around "the magic of reading".

All but three of Scotland's 32 local authorities have already signed up.

Benny Higgins, chief executive of Tesco Bank, said: "Reading shows you how to see the world differently, and seeing the world differently gives you a better chance in life."

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