Children bound to enjoy the reading celebration at Southsea Castle

Thousands of primary school children and their families will celebrate a summer of experiments, discovery, and a world of literature at Portsmouth City Council’s annual Summer Reading Challenge celebration event, which runs from 10am to 3pm on Sunday 2 October at Southsea Castle.

All primary school children in the city were challenged to read books over the summer holiday, with incentives to encourage them to take part. On the celebratory Sunday at the castle, children will receive a special, eco-friendly wooden medal and get the chance to take part in lots of fun and free activities.

The national challenge has a different theme each year, and for 2022 six science-loving friends called The Gadgeteers were introduced. The friends have helped children discover the world of science and innovation in their everyday lives, including baking, music, and tech.

To celebrate this year’s theme, children and families can enjoy free science workshops from former CBeebies host, Steven Gates, who will showcase the chemicals and mechanisms of fartology. There will be a treasure hunt, craft activities, face painting, a silent disco, and a mobile library to borrow books from.

Cllr Steve Pitt, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure, and Economic Development at Portsmouth City Council said: “The Summer Reading Challenge is a wonderful initiative and a fun, free activity for children to enjoy throughout the summer. I am excited to see the children celebrate their achievements with a fantastic day out!”

Cllr Suzy Horton, Deputy Leader of Portsmouth City Council and Cabinet Member for Children, Families & Education said: “The Summer Reading Challenge is an amazing way to encourage children to love reading, which is a skill that will bring them opportunities and enjoyment throughout their whole lives.

“It’s great to see the lengths our libraries go to in promoting the summer event, supporting the children and recommending books for them to read, and hosting such a wonderful day to celebrate completing the challenge. A huge thank you to everyone involved.”

Launched nationally on 9 July, the challenge recognised reading in all forms, including books of any size, graphic novels, poetry, picture books, and audiobooks. Portsmouth children took part by visiting their local library or going online to log all their summer reading.

Since the pandemic, participation has been hybrid, with almost 400 Portsmouth children taking part in the challenge online. This has been beneficial to those who may find it difficult to attend the library during opening hours and may help children with social difficulties.

For more information about Portsmouth libraries visit