WITH schools either already broken up for the summer or about to, parents will be devising strategies to keep children busy during the holidays.
Alongside day trips, summer schemes and general loafing around, it's a good idea to encourage children to keep their reading skills sharp and nurture a love of a good book.
Libraries NI take part each year in a Summer Reading Challenge which is all about getting primary aged children to read for pleasure during the school holidays.
It's organised by The Reading Agency, and this year it has teamed up with WWF to offer a programme called 'Wild World Heroes' which aims to inspire children to explore ways of helping to save the planet.
Activities don't come much more environmentally friendly than reading, after all, and this summer's campaign has won the support of Co Down teenager Dara McAnulty, the acclaimed award-winning author and naturalist, and Deadly 60 presenter, the adventurer Steve Backshall.
To sign up, all you have to do is call into your local library. Once registered, each child will receive a free collector's folder and choose their own personal reading goal, then read any book to collect special stickers and other rewards along the way.
Everyone who completes their personal challenge at the end of the summer, will receive a certificate and a medal.
Jim O'Hagan, Libraries NI chief executive, said that "reading over the summer holidays helps keep children's reading levels up before going back to school in September".
"Engagement with the Summer Reading Challenge motivates children to read more over the summer and according to The Reading Agency, evidence shows it also supports wellbeing and family connectedness - something that is so vital in a post-pandemic landscape where children are estimated to have lost at least two months of learning in reading," he said.
"Libraries across Northern Ireland have a large range of books, eBooks and audiobooks available to borrow for free and this year's challenge has been set to really help young readers and parents maximise opportunities to engage with fun nature-themed topics and stories.
"With ideas from the WWF, we can all learn how to help tackle real-world environmental issues such as plastic pollution, deforestation and wildlife decline."
Karen Napier of The Reading Agency said Dara McAnulty and Steve Backshall were "wonderful ambassadors" for the summer campaign.
"We hope that this year, more children than ever will feel inspired and encouraged to sign up to the challenge," she said.
"After a difficult year for many, we are immensely grateful for the continued and longstanding support of public libraries, and we're looking forward to working closely with them to help get children reading, alongside our brilliant partners and sponsors."
The Summer Reading Challenge has been running for the past 22 years and aims to foster a lifelong love of reading and tackle the drop off in reading that happens over the school summer holidays.