Last year’s online Summer Reading Quest – which was devised to bring 8- to 17-year-olds together through fun challenges linked to books, poetry and comics – proved a huge success. The initiative was set up by Sarah Magee, the senior community development worker for the Army Welfare Service, based in Aldershot, in partnership with service charity, Reading Force. Army&You caught up with Sarah to find out more about the Quest’s return…

Where did the idea come from?

We wanted to create virtual sessions that could engage with young people, support them during last summer’s lockdown and help them learn from books, develop their literacy skills, and bring families together through fun games and quizzes. And the good news is, it will be running again this summer. There are two sessions, the Book Wizards for those aged 8-11 and The Page Turners for 11+.

How will it work?

You can sign up to receive a free book and scrapbook from Reading Force. Your youngster will then receive an activity spinner and Zoom details to the weekly sessions. Each week they have a different spinner with new challenges to take part in. Challenges range from reading something that makes you happy, registering with your local library and sharing a book with a friend to building a reading den in your house. During the session young people will be able to share their favourite activity and pictures that can be used on the Reading Force Facebook page.
The aspiration is to get more young people reading and loving books and literature, while also raising awareness of the fantastic resources that Reading Force provides.

Who can take part?

Military young people aged 8-21 from across the world can get involved – whether in the UK, Germany, Canada, Belize or Cyprus, all will receive free resources.

What’s the reaction been like?

The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. One young person from last summer’s activities explained: “The Reading Quest gave me something to do and I enjoyed reading the books that I received in the post.”

And parent Christy Bailey said: “My daughter, Grace, never fails to amaze me. She signed up not knowing anyone at all or what to expect. She dived straight into her Zoom call session with no fear. Reading is what she loves, so what better way to ‘socialise’ than with a group of her peers who all enjoy the same.”

How can families get involved?

By registering with Sarah at sarah.magee651@mod.gov.uk

Main photo: Grace Bailey, who enjoyed taking part in the Summer Reading Quest, reading The Keeper’s Daughter – one of the books posted to her by Reading Force.

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