• Melissa Wastney

SPCA summer Reading Challenge

Read for animals this summer with the SPCA Reading Challenge, run by Read NZ.




It all started when we asked a group of self-described reluctant readers: what would it take to make reading more fun for you? They were of intermediate age and giving us their honest feedback as part of a National Library-based co-design workshop two years ago.


‘Reading can be boring,’ one brave soul ventured.

‘I think it would be better if it was more like sport, with teams and competition.’


This was the spark of inspiration for our online reading challenge, launched for the first time in December 2019 in partnership with NZ Cricket. We ran a second iteration, the Stay Home Book Club, during the April lockdown.


This week we kick off the third of these challenges, this time informed by user feedback from the people whose opinion we value most: the children who took part in one of the previous two challenges. We asked: 'Other than reading, what else are you interested in?' The (almost unanimous) answer: animals. Cats, dogs, horses, ponies, penguins and sharks all made the list, along with a wild card entry: ‘Tasmanian Devils.’



We asked: 'Other than reading, what else are you interested in?' The (almost unanimous) answer: animals.

Inspired by these insights, Read NZ has joined forces with NZ’s best-known animal protection organisation to create the SPCA Reading Challenge. From today, children five years and up are invited to register for free and choose an animal team to ‘play’ for. Players log the books they read over the summer, along with a star rating and short review. A ‘readerboard’ keeps track of the teams as they move up and down the rankings accordingly.


Paper Plus gift cards are up for grabs every day of the competition. There are lots of books to be won too, thanks to the support of Wellington publisher Gecko Press. To win a specially-curated bundle of books about animals, children can send in a picture of themselves reading to a pet, farm, animal, other wildlife, or even a stuffed animal friend. The top readers in each team will also win Paper Plus gift cards at the end of the competition.



To win a specially-curated bundle of books about animals, children can send in a picture of themselves reading to a pet, farm, animal, other wildlife, or even a stuffed animal friend.


Read NZ Te Pou Muramura CEO Juliet Blyth says the reading challenge is a fun new way to address the well-documented ‘summer slide’ in learning over the holidays.


'Research tells us over and over again that reading for pleasure is the single most important factor in a child’s educational success, and our competition is a great way to support reading over summer so that when children return to school in the new year, their learning hasn’t suffered as a result of the long break.'


'At Read NZ we think it’s really important that children find reading fun, and our partnerships with the SPCA, Paper Plus and Gecko provide plenty of opportunities to read and learn about animal welfare and win cool prizes.'



Research tells us over and over again that reading for pleasure is the single most important factor in a child’s educational success.


SPCA National Education Manager Nicole Peddie welcomes the initiative, and says SPCA feel fortunate to be involved in the exciting challenge for Kiwi kids.

'Animals are not only interesting to read about, they also make wonderful, supportive reading buddies. We know that practice makes perfect. However, many children dislike reading aloud in front of their classmates, even their family sometimes. However, an animal companion won’t judge a child’s mistakes and will calmly listen to and enjoy their company. As such, practicing reading with an animal companion, even a toy version, can help children associate reading with pleasure. When reading becomes enjoyable, children are likely to do it more often, improving both their skill and confidence along the way. Plus, most animals enjoy this calm and relaxing interaction too,' says Nicole.




sign up for the spca reading challenge


Register at reading-challenge.org.nz .







Download printable posters and other collateral here.



Read nz


Read NZ want all children and adults in Aotearoa to read for pleasure, and all Kiwis to read more. Here's why.