Southsea Castle saw over 3,500 children and families attend Portsmouth Libraries' summer reading challenge winners' ceremony on Sunday 24 September.

Over the summer holidays hundreds of children from across the city visited the public libraries to sign up for the ‘Ready, Set, Read!’ challenge. Children set their own targets of how many books they would read and borrow during the summer, in a hope to attend the winners’ ceremony and receive a well-earned medal.

Treasure hunts, facepainting, storytelling from Debutots and a silent disco, were just a few of the activities that the children enjoyed. They also had the chance to try out Bounce Fitness and an original puppet theatre performed by the Doyle Detectives.

The challenge was set to encourage children to keep their minds and bodies active over the summer holidays. For every book they read, the children received stickers and other incentives to keep them reading, before finally being presented with a certificate in their local library.

Charlie, aged 6 from Paulsgrove said, ‘I loved reading so many great books in my holidays and finding more about Portsmouth doing the treasure trail! I can’t wait to take part again next summer’.

The challenge recognised reading in all sorts of formats: story books, graphic novels, poetry, joke books, picture books eBooks and eAudio books, which can all be borrowed from the city’s local libraries.

Cllr Steve Pitt, Leader of Portsmouth City Council and Cabinet Member responsible for culture, said:

“The summer reading challenge was a great success. Reading has so many benefits for all, including improved self-esteem, freeing the imagination, broadening vocabulary, bringing joy, and most importantly, it’s fun! We are a city rich in culture and creativity and aim to spark creativity in our younger generation. Thank you to our libraries for providing such a valuable service.”

Cllr Suzy Horton, Deputy Leader at Portsmouth City Council and Cabinet Member for Children, Families & Education added:

“The libraries’ challenge is a fantastic way to encourage young people to open themselves up to the world of stories. Reading develops vital life skills, opens up opportunities and enhances their enjoyment in books for the rest of their lives. It’s amazing that so many children have taken part this year and we are thrilled to be able to celebrate their success with this wonderful event to reward them for their efforts”.