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Time to hit the books: Discover the best reading challenges for kids in 2020

30 May 2020

Time to hit the books: Discover the best reading challenges for kids in 2020

By Jack Teare 


Getting your children interested in reading books can be difficult and a lot of us wonder how to motivate reluctant readers. But reading is super beneficial for children in the long run, so we’ve gathered together this easy reading challenge list for kids of all ages.

Go ahead and pick a 2020 reading challenge – before you know it, they’ll be bigger bookworms than you.


Why we need to read

As new forms of entertainment like smartphones, laptops, and gaming consoles have become more popular, books have fallen by the wayside a bit. Reading enjoyment in younger people and children is actually at its lowest level since 2013, which isn’t great.

Research shows that children struggle to learn other subjects if they’re not sufficient readers by the middle of primary school. Whereas those who do read often have been shown to gain higher results in maths, vocabulary, and spelling tests. So, we need to figure out how to encourage reluctant readers away from all these other distractions to help them in the future.

There are several book series out there written specifically for kids who are struggling to engage with reading – Badger Learning has a selection for both Primary School and Secondary School students. But one of the simplest ways you can encourage your child is through a kids’ reading challenge. Your school may have something like this in place already, but having books at home has been shown to improve reading enjoyment and confidence in kids. So here are a few ideas…


List of reading challenges 2020


Summer Reading Challenge

The Summer Reading Challenge is an annual reading event which is hosted by libraries across the UK with the support of a few other organisations. Usually, libraries can order in the list of books for children to borrow and they hold supporting events and marketing on location. This year is a little different due to the pandemic, so they’re going digital instead!


This year’s topic is Silly Squad, and a list of books for younger and older children to read will be released on their website along with other information about the digital events that will run throughout the challenge. Starting on Friday 5 June, there are online rewards to unlock, personal challenges to set, games, quizzes, and extra-special characters waiting to meet you. Head on over to their website, check it all out, and join in.


As well as the Summer Reading Challenge, the site has loads of valuable information and a super useful book sorter to help you and your kids find books they may be interested in. Using the sorter, you can pick a genre or activity and refine by age to reveal a selection of books your children might like to read. It’s a great way to create a home-made reading list any time of the year.


The Matilda reading challenge

Roald Dahl’s super-smart character is possibly the fictional world’s most avid reader – if nothing else, reading is her super power.


Despite being just 4 years and 3 months old when she starts, Matilda reads a wide range of books written for a variety of age groups. For some younger readers, this will certainly be a challenge, so it might be a better idea to make this into a longer-term reading goal for your children. You can find a list of 18 of Matilda’s reading books on the


The Roald Dahl reading challenge

Roald Dahl is up there as one of the most well-known children’s authors in recent history. His stories are incredibly imaginative, really silly, and totally relatable. Roald Dahl Children’s books are filled with nonsensical made-up words and high-spirited characters. Alongside the famous illustrations by Quentin Blake, it makes them the perfect books for reluctant readers and those who are struggling to engage with regular children’s literature. He once said,


“Children’s books are harder to write. It’s tougher to keep a child interested because a child doesn’t have the concentration of an adult. A child knows the television is in the next room. It’s tough to hold a child, but it’s a lovely thing to try to do.”


You can find a list of all his reading books online at, but this list of 14 is great for kids aged 3 and up:


  • Matilda
  • The Giraffe And The Pelly And Me
  • George's Marvellous Medicine
  • Fantastic Mr Fox
  • The Magic Finger
  • Esio Trot
  • Charlie And The Great Glass Elevator
  • The BFG
  • The Witches
  • The Twits
  • Charlie And The Chocolate Factory
  • James And The Giant Peach
  • Danny The Champion Of The World
  • The Enormous Crocodile


DIY reading challenges

If none of these seems right for your future bookworm, you could always make your own reading challenge and customise it to your child. There are loads of ideas out there and printable templates you can personalise.  Here are some ideas for your own 2020 reading challenge:

  1. Read 7 books with covers the same colour as the rainbow
  2. Read a book about your favourite animal
  3. Read a book where the main character shares your name
  4. Read a book with a number in the title
  5. Read 4 books of 4 different genres
  6. Listen to an audiobook


Rewards and incentives for completing reading challenges

In addition to feeling accomplished and checking off items on their reading challenges, some struggling readers may need a little extra motivation to stay engaged.


Research has shown that literacy-targeted rewards, like new books or vouchers, are more effective at making kids want to read more often, as they’re related to the activity. But here are a few other tried and tested rewards and incentives that can be used to encourage continued reading:

  • Watch a movie based on a book they’ve finished
  • Have a dressup day around the book they’re currently reading
  • Offer smaller prizes like treats or bookmarks for finishing a book
  • Have one big prize for completing the overall challenge
  • Get one of their friends involved and make it a book club
  • Good oldfashioned sticker chart


Reading is so beneficial to children and younger people. It really does set them up for life, so give these kids reading challenges a try and see if your reluctant reader can be turned into a true booklover.




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