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Family Case Study

The Six Book Challenge

In 2010 the Reading Agency asked Dudley Libraries to pilot a newly combined 6 book/Summer Reading Challenge where parents/carers would read 6 books alongside their children.

Due to it’s success (21 starters, 17completers), Dudley was approached once again in 2011 to take part and also offer support and advice to other authorities who had shown an interest in participating.

The Reading Agency asked if any of the families who participated could be used as case studies. Three families agreed: the Nelson, Myatt and Palmer families.

Here is a short extract of what they had to say about the value of enjoying reading together as a family.

Palmer Family Prize Winners
Prize winners for the Summer Reading Challenge

The Palmer Family


"I’ve done the Six Book Challenge for the past two years now. I first heard about it when some of the library staff came and did a promotional day at the children’s centre where I volunteer.

I used to enjoy reading but I’ve got out of the habit since they boys were born and it’d been a long time since I’d really read anything: I thought it would be both a good way to get back into reading, but also that it would be good for the boys to see me reading; to see me doing a reading challenge like the one they do.

So I signed up. It’s like eating. If a child sees you eating something, they won’t be as apprehensive about trying it themselves. So it’s great that they see me reading and doing the Six Book Challenge.

For me, it’s all about the children, and that’s an important reason why I make time for it – children will only learn to do something by watching you, and they’ve watched me enjoying the Six Book Challenge and reading".

Karina Nelson Prize winner
Karina Nelson presentation ceremony.

The Nelson Family


"We had gone to the first of this summer’s theme days at our library, when there was a lady there explaining to people that there was also a Challenge for adults to do – the Six Book Challenge. She asked me if I would be interested in doing it; at first I thought there’d be no way I’d be able to do it, because I don’t have a lot of free time, but she explained that you could read three adults’ books and three children’s books to complete it.

I always read every night to the girls, so I thought I’d give it a go. I was pleased when I completed the Six Book Challenge and got my certificate; we took it to show my parents along with the certificates the girls got for finishing the Summer Reading Challenge – that made my mum and dad laugh!

But I do think it is good for the girls to see me reading, especially Megan who is older. She was interested in what I was reading; she would come up and say “Let’s have a look at your book” and she even chose a book for me to read – I like giraffes and she chose one with a giraffe on the cover.

Having the family doing reading challenges all helps – I think it is very important for the kids’ education that they read. It is the one thing that everyone needs to be good at: if you can’t read, you can’t do anything.

The Six Book Challenge has helped me to get back into reading for myself. It doesn’t have to take long – you can set aside ten minutes to read and build it up, but then you’ll surprise yourself; the ten minutes will have gone by but you’ll find you want to know what happens next in the book! Quite often my husband will call up to me and say “What are you doing?”: I’ll be reading and I’ll want to find out what happens next, and time just disappears".

Mrs Palmer reading ceremony
Mrs Palmer at the summer reading challenge ceremony
Miss Nelson at the prize ceremony
Miss Nelson at the six book challenge prize ceremony.

 The Myatt Family


"When we were taking back to the library the first set of books which they had read for the Summer Reading Challenge, I was talking to one of the librarians at the counter and there was a lady there who was telling people that there was also a  Six Book Challenge for adults. I thought I’d do it – because I knew I could get the six books read, but also because I thought it would be good for the girls to see me doing it, and reading.

It meant we could all sit down and read together, that I could tell them that Mummy had to read a bit of her book, and in that I would not, with the Summer Reading Challenge, be telling them to do something that I wasn’t doing.

For any busy mums who might be thinking that they haven’t got the time to spare for something like the Six Book Challenge, I’d say to them that it’s something you can do with your kids.

It doesn’t have to take long – it’s like when they come home from school with books to read, I’ll hear them read whilst I’m making the tea – you don’t have to stand over them. You can always find ten minutes somewhere. You have to make the time for reading – it’s extremely important, because if you can’t read, you’re stumped".