Kiwi kids love animals and this year the SPCA Reading Challenge brings together books and creatures in a fun summer competition. Melissa Wastney, Read NZ Te Pou Muramura, introduces New Zealand school libraries to the SPCA Reading Challenge.
Read NZ Te Pou Muramura (formerly NZ Book Council) has joined forces with SPCA to get kids reading more books over the holidays.
The SPCA Reading Challenge is an interactive website. Children aged 5 and up are invited to register for free and choose an animal team to ‘play’ for. Players log the books they read over the summer, along with a star rating and short review. A leader board keeps track of the teams as they move up and down the rankings accordingly.
Launching on December 14, the SPCA Reading Challenge will run until January 22.
The initiative follows two previous competitions – the Super Smash Reading Challenge in 2019, which teamed T20 cricket and books, and the Stay Home Book Club which ran over the national lockdown period in 2020.
Guided by children’s feedback, the SPCA Reading Challenge features an improved book logging system and teams arranged by age groups.
Paper Plus gift cards are up for grabs every day of the competition. There are lots of books to be won too, thanks to the support of Wellington publisher Gecko Press. To win a specially-curated bundle of books about animals, children can send in a picture of themselves reading to a pet, farm, or wildlife animal, or even a stuffed animal friend. The top readers in each team will also win Paper Plus gift cards at the end of the competition.
Read NZ Te Pou Muramura CEO Juliet Blyth says the reading challenge is a fun new way to address the well-documented ‘summer slide’ in learning over the holidays.
“We’re so excited to be running the Reading Challenge again this summer. We want more children to read more, to experience the joy of reading and hopefully encourage other whānau members to pick up a book too,” she says.
“Research tells us over and over again that reading for pleasure is the single most important factor in a child’s educational success, and our competition is a great way to support reading over summer so that when children return to school in the new year, their learning hasn’t suffered as a result of the long break.”
“At Read NZ we think it’s really important that children find reading fun, and our partnerships with the SPCA, Paper Plus and Gecko provide plenty of opportunities to read and learn about animal welfare and win cool prizes.”
SPCA National Education Manager Nicole Peddie welcomes the initiative and says SPCA feel fortunate to be involved in the exciting challenge for Kiwi kids.
“With the right books summer reading can be a fun and enjoyable activity for children to sustain the reading levels they’ve worked so hard to achieve over the school year and we think animals, be them companion, farmed, wild, even prehistoric or mythical, are a cool topic to read about!”
“Animals are not only interesting to read about, but they also make wonderful, supportive reading buddies. We know that practice makes perfect. However, many children dislike reading aloud in front of their classmates, even their family sometimes. However, an animal companion won’t judge a child’s mistakes and will calmly listen to and enjoy their company.”
“As such, practising reading with an animal companion, even a toy version, can help children associate reading with pleasure. When reading becomes enjoyable, children are likely to do it more often, improving both their skill and confidence along the way. Plus, most animals enjoy this calm and relaxing interaction too,” says Nicole.
Read NZ is grateful for the generous support of Paper Plus and Gecko Press for the prizes on offer.