Starting big conversations through reading

The Reading Agency and Parentkind have joined forces to bring those in a parenting role across the UK a practical session to support them in these trying times.

Catch up on the webinar 

Reading allows for the big” topics to be discussed, topics like worries around the environment and struggles around mental health that children and adults alike can find difficult to open up about. At a time where frightening issues are all over the news, and concerning children in unprecedented ways, reading can be the tool needed to support families.

At a recent event, health expert Dr Clare Etherington, teacher Matthew Courtney, founding member of The Reading Agency Debbie Hicks MBE, and children’s authors Kevin and Katie Tsang, chaired by Parentkind’s Programmes Manager, discussed how reading can support those in a parenting role to get children talking, looking at four key areas that The Reading Agency have reported as being areas that are tough for children:

  • Bullying
  • Bereavement
  • Worry, including topics such as climate change and the pandemic
  • Managing feelings

About The Reading Agency 

The Reading Agency is a national charity that tackles life’s big challenges through the proven power of reading. We work closely with partners to develop and deliver programmes for people of all ages and backgrounds; our vision is for a world where everyone is reading their way to a better life. We help 1.8 million people benefit from reading every year, through our programmes, our tireless campaigning, our excellent networks and our power to influence, challenge and make change happen.

About Reading Well 

Reading Well provides helpful reading to support children and young people understand and manage their mental health and well-being. Reading Well books are all chosen and endorsed by health experts, children, and families. The books are free to borrow from public libraries. Those in a parenting role can use the books to start conversations about difficult feelings and experiences, and cope with tough times. You will find a toolkit for those in a parenting role here.

Teachers can use books in the classroom to support a whole-school mental health and well-being approach, or to help specific students deal with tough times. You will find a toolkit for schools here.

About the Summer Reading Challenge 

The Summer Reading Challenge encourages children aged four to 11 to set themselves a reading challenge to help prevent the summer reading dip’. Each year the Challenge, delivered with the support of public libraries, motivates over 700,000 children to keep reading to build their skills and confidence. This year The Reading Agency has teamed up with WWF to deliver a Wild World Heroes’ themed Summer Reading Challenge, which will encourage children across the country to engage in fun reading activity focused on environmental issues.

With ideas from WWF, the Challenge focuses on taking action for nature and tackling real-world environmental issues, from plastic pollution and deforestation to wildlife decline and nature loss. Through taking part in the Challenge children will be able to join six fictional characters — wild heroes’ — to help solve some of these threats, learning about the importance of the environment while helping to restore nature levels in the neighbourhood of Wilderville’.

The Summer Reading Challenge will launch on 19 June in Northern Ireland and Scotland and 10 July in England and Wales. Children are invited to take part in their local library and/​or online. Children who get involved through public libraries will receive free Summer Reading Challenge packs, or if they take part online, they will have access to digital incentives and rewards. With school life disrupted over the past year, this year’s Challenge is more important than ever, helping parents and carers to find family-friendly activities, maintain literacy levels and create a safe space for children to connect with their peers.

For more information and to sign up, visit