Hooray for the Summer Reading Challenge!

I gather this year has been a good one for the Summer Reading Challenge, a scheme to keep children’s reading habits going over the long summer holiday. I don’t think that was ever a problem for me as a child – always happy to go to the library for another Enid Blyton – but I must admit, I’d pretty much forgotten everything  else I’d learned at school from the previous year, come the first day of the autumn term!

Prize giving day for the Summer Reading Challenge at Bream Library – Forest of Dean



I posted once before about how I was involved in the first ever Summer Reading Challenge, an idea dreamed up by Andrea Reece at Hodder Children’s Books. So I’m always very happy to be asked to play a small part over the summer.

Last week, I went to Bream Library, just down the road, where I told some stories and handed out the medals and certificates to all the children who had completed their Challenge this summer – Well done all!

It seems the challenge has been a bit oversubscribed this year – probably due to the fallen value of the pound and everyone staycationing – I guess Brexit has a had a small positive influence on something after all!

My Visit to Jersey Library

JerseyI thought I’d lost my faithful Swiss Army pocket knife when I checked into security at Birmingham airport. Normally I put it in my suitcase, but this time it was still in my pocket! I was allowed to go and buy a jiffy bag and stamps and post it back to myself. It would have been a sad day if I’d had to hand it over forever.

However, the temporary loss of my penknife did not impact on my visit to Jersey in the Channel Islands. The plane stops at Guernsey first, where I visited schools in 2010. You can see my trip videos here, and here, and here.

I was met by Linne, from the Young Readers’ Department of Jersey Library, who generously showed me around the island a bit. It’s full of castles and lovely beaches and romantic, wooded valleys that are very evident from the air as you come into land.

As a strategic island, it bears the marks of warfare over the centuries, with castles and fortresses, napoloeonic martelloi towers and a good deal of concrete gun emplacements from when the Nazis occupied the island in WW2.

I had a lovely time in the library, which had really gone to town with the Creepy House Theme. There was a creepy house – or garden shed! – a ghost train and a creepy queueing system as there are about 1000 children doing the Summer Reading Challenge in St Helier alone! The Children’s library is a very busy place over the summer!

I told scary stories and showed how to draw the Pizza Man and Frankatstein’s Monster and all the children did wonderful drawings.

Many thanks, again, for a great trip and I hope I’ll be able to come back again one day.

How to Draw Frankenstein’s Monster

Scary-creepy-frankensteinsmallI’m making a “How to draw scary stuff”book at the moment and so the next few Fridays will concentrate on the artwork I am making for that, so be prepared for a few creepy drawings. I’ll let you know when the book is finished and ready for sale. Meanwhile, if you are doing “Creepy House” Summer Reading Challenge in British Libraries you might well be in the mood to draw something creepy like this!

Boris Karloff was the original Hollywood Frankenstein’s Monster and he did such a good job that you could not draw any other way. The Monster is often referred to as Frankenstein but the monster is really the creation of Professor Frankenstein is

I’m making a “How to draw scary stuff” book at the moment and so the next few Fridays will concentrate on the artwork I am making for that, so be prepared for a few creepy drawings. I’ll let you know when the book is finished and ready for sale.

How to draw a creepy Castle

CastlesmlLearn to draw a creepy castle on an island in a lake.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be doing drawings for a book of How to draw scary stuff and I’ll be featuring videos based on drawings in the book. I hope you enjoy all the scary videos that are coming up! Mwahahahahahahah!

New videos every week 4.00pm UK Time. Mondays – Stuff…Wednesdays – Quick and Easy… Fridays – Drawing on a Theme… Your work on the Sunday Gallery Review Show. Post your work here: https://www.shoorayner.com/upload-gallery/

learn about the Summer Reading Challenge here! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UXh4JOzKGiM&feature=c4-overview&list=UUDv_kPbWdc8vWVsi42-LW4A

Here is the Scary Stuff Playlist with everything on it!

The Summer Reading Challenge

Original Summer Reading Badge

The Summer is here and that means that over the next few months hundreds of thousands of children will be visiting libraries up and down the land, borrowing books, reading them and getting small prizes for their effort. I remember the long summer holidays going on for ever. By the time I got back to school, I’d forgotten everything I’d learned the year before. The Summer reading challenge helps to keep up the habit of reading – the most important skill and person can learn in this world. Not analysis of text – reading – that means books and stories that make you laugh or cry or hyperventilate with fear.

I’m very proud to have been a part of the start of the Summer reading challenge. Andrea Reece was a brilliant Marketing Director at Hodder Children’s Books, whom I’d worked with previously, when she worked at Harper Collins. She came up with the idea of selling a “Leap into Reading” summer reading scheme to bookshop. He idea inadvertently pioneered the format of the Summer Reading Challenge we have all come to know and love. Dump Bins full of early readers were sold to bookshops. With each dump bin full of books came pencils, badges, posters and erasers, which were prizes for reading a book each week of the holidays. There was a passport that had to filled in to gain the next prize. Some libraries spotted the possibilities and bought the bins too. They started their own, individual summer reading schemes.

Original “Leaping Ginger Ninja”

What were they to do the next year – well somewhere along over the next year, the Summer Reading Challenge got started and has carried on ever since.

I remember all this because my character, The Ginger Ninja, was leaping over the top of the dump bin and all the gifts had his smiling face all over them.

My readers will know that the Ginger Ninja has moved onto the 21st century, gracing the iPad with a built in video drawing lesson!and you can get a free story by joining my mailing list.

Good luck to all involved in the Summer Reading Challenge – I know it’s a lot of hard work, but I know that many Librarians look forward to those happy, smiling faces coming for the next book each week through the summer – and in many areas it has a quite profound effect in inspiring and maintaining reading proficiency through the long, long holiday.