This summer, Isle of Wight libraries are challenging children to help solve a mystery by inviting them to join ‘Animal Agents’, part of the Summer Reading Challenge 2017.

This year’s challenge is illustrated by Tony Ross, the UK’s best-selling children’s illustrator, creator of the Little Princess books and illustrator of the Horrid Henry series. The colourful artwork depicts the Animal Agents, a bunch of furry, slippery and 4-legged friends, who are attempting to solve a library-based mystery. As children read books, they will receive clues which will help them solve the mystery for themselves. By reading books, they will catch the crook!

It’s free to join, and every child who completes the challenge will receive a medal and a certificate.

The Isle of Wight Cabinet member for environment and heritage, Councillor John Hobart, said:

“This year’s Summer Reading Challenge is sure to fire children’s imagination, following on from the Road Dahl themed challenge of last year.

“I have no doubt this year’s theme will be as avidly followed and open up another world of adventure, at the same time as encouraging children to read more, for the pure enjoyment of it. I wish our Island children the best of luck in completing the challenge and catching the crook.”

The Isle of Wight Library Service Manager, Rob Jones, said:

“We are looking forward to welcoming our new recruits to the Animal Agents on their quest to find the crook, in this year’s Reading Challenge.

“More importantly, the challenge brings an element of fun and is essential in making sure children continue to improve their literacy skills over the long summer holidays.”

Animal Agents runs throughout the summer holiday in all island libraries, including the mobile library and the community libraries run by volunteers, and is open to children of all ages. Everyone who enrols will receive a collector’s folder and a door hanger. As children read books, they receive a variety of exciting Animal Agents goodies, such as a wristband and a zip tag, as well as the ever-popular smelly stickers, with the medal awarded when they have read six books.

The annual Summer Reading Challenge is great fun, but it also plays an important part in keeping children’s literacy levels up over the summer, a time when they traditionally drop. At the heart of the challenge is the principal that children choose their own books, which helps them see reading as pleasure rather than as a chore. Any books count: fiction or non-fiction, easy or hard, old favourite or new author. Even struggling or reluctant readers can take part, and receive a reward for reading – a great boost to their confidence.

Last year 2,345 Island children took part in the Big Friendly Read, the Summer Reading Challenge 2016, with an amazing 69% of them earning their medal. The vast majority of children surveyed felt that they were better readers at the end of the summer than they were at the start, and many parents commented that they had never seen their children so keen to read.

Children can sign up for Animal Agents throughout the holidays in any island library. It’s a fun challenge to last through the summer, and it doesn’t cost a penny! Children can also visit where they can find additional games, challenges and information about the Animal Agents.

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