Give a Book Week

Welsh Books Council

Give a Book Week - 07 July 2008

One of the key campaigns of the National Year of Reading in Wales is an innovative campaign which encourages people from across Wales to embrace the gift of reading and give one another a book during the week of 7 – 12 July 2008.

Communities, companies and celebrities alike have joined the campaign and are gearing up to give each other books during the week.  Delyth Humphreys, National Year of Reading Coordinator explains: "Give a Book Week has been organised by the Welsh Books Council as part of the National Year of Reading as a way of sharing the joy of reading.  We’re pleased that people from all across Wales are planning to share their favourite read with one another during the week with a view to it being a talking point amongst friends."

Some of the groups involved in the week include Merched y Wawr, who will be giving books to Women’s Aid; Accent Press giving 1,500 books to Corus Group; Ysgol Syr Hugh Owen, Caernarfon giving books to Itala, School Zambia and Danygraig Primary School, Swansea, giving thesauruses to their school leavers.  The Welsh Books Council will also be giving the First Minister Rhodri Morgan and the Education Minister Jane Hutt books for them to indulge in.

A whole host of celebrities have also joined in the activities, including Guto Harri giving Boris Johnson a book, Prys Morgan giving his favourite read to his brother, the First Minister Rhodri Morgan, Max Boyce presenting a book to Lyn Ebenezer, Chris Needs to his godson and Angharad Mair to her children.

Commenting on the initiative, Education Minister Jane Hutt said: "As part of National Year of Reading in Wales, a number of wonderful activities and events have already been organised and this latest campaign will, I’m sure, play a key role in highlighting the benefits of reading.  A few weeks ago, at the launch of the campaign, I was able to give over a 1,000 Quick Read books out to members of the public.  I urge individuals of all ages to get involved and Give a Book to a friend, family member or colleague during the week."

Further details about how individuals, companies and organisations can participate in the campaign can be gained by contacting the Welsh Books Council or by logging on to the new and interactive website at

Case studies

Merched y Wawr give books to Women’s Aid 

Merched y Wawr are delighted with the idea of Give a Book Week and their members have decided to work with Gwasg Honno to give books to Women’s Aid Wales.  Tegwen Morris, Merched y Wawr’s Director, said: "We’ve already worked quite extensively with Women’s Aid during the year and have raised awareness of the important work accomplished by them; during our Summer Festival we presented them with a cheque for £1,306.50.  Wednesday will be a fantastic opportunity for us to present them with Welsh and bilingual children’s books from the Gwasg Honno press."

Jane MacNamee from Gwasg Honno and Lynne Smith from Women’s Aid will join Tegwen to present the books at Merched y Wawr’s National Centre.  Tegwen commented: "Many of our members derive great pleasure from reading books and a lot of them buy books as gifts for their friends. It is good to know that reading is still as popular as ever and that so many new books arrive on our bookshops’ shelves."

Danygraig Primary School  give books to their school-leavers

As part of events to mark the 'Rites of Passage' of Year 6 pupils to move on to secondary education, Danygraig Primary School, Swansea will celebrate and highlight Give a Book Week by presenting books to the pupils.

Nigel Morgan, Headteacher of Danygraig School, explains: "Each child will be presented with a thesaurus. This follows a theme that we have promoted this year on encouraging children to use 'more unusual descriptions' in their writing; to move away from clichés and to allow 'open spaces' for the imagination. As the Headteacher, and author of young people's books, I have been able to carry out writing workshops at Danygraig and at other Swansea schools on this topic. The results have included young children using phrases like ‘As colourful as a petrol rainbow on a rain-soaked road’ or ‘... his features were weathered, and I thought of my Grandpa's gardening boots.’

Danygraig also has a Family Book Donation scheme where families buy a book for their child, grandchild, nephew or niece. When the child has read the book, it is donated to the school library and a certificate with the name of the donating family is placed inside the book. Nigel Morgan comments, "The scheme ensures our library is restocked regularly, it provides a valuable community and school bond and, above all, it encourages the enjoyment of reading."

"We’re really looking forward to the presentation of the books where Year 6 pupils and some parents will take part in a presentation at Danygraig Primary School, Swansea, on Tuesday morning, 8 July." 

Ysgol Syr Hugh Owen, Caernarfon give books to Zambia

A team of pupils from Ysgol Syr Hugh Owen will be taking special gifts with them to Itala School in Zambia – a collection of books about Wales for the school library and money to buy books for the children there.  They will present the books in Zambia as part of the National Year of Reading activities in Wales.

The gifts are sponsored by the Bangor Soroptimists and the staff of Gwynedd Library Service.   Tony Foster, the teacher who will be leading the team from Ysgol Syr Hugh Owen, said, "Pupils from Ysgol Syr Hugh have visited Itala for a number of years and all their efforts to  improve the facilities available for the pupils are greatly appreciated. I am sure there will be a welcome for these gifts."

Hywel James, Principal Librarian for Gwynedd Council, added: "We are very glad as library staff to support the work of the school to improve the library provision at Itala School and raise awareness in another part of the world of how important a library is for a child’s development."

Accent Press give books to Corus

Independent publisher Accent Press, which is based in Bedlinog, is working with Corus and the Unite union to launch a summer reading initiative during Give a Book Week.

The publishers will distribute 1,500 books including Scott Quinnell’s  The Hardest Test and Life’s New Hurdles  by Colin Jackson among the 5,000 workers at Corus’s sites across south Wales.

Accent Press’s Managing Director, Hazel Cushion, said: "We’re happy to be working with Corus and donating some of our books to their workforce. Reading is important for pleasure as well as in the work environment.  We hope the workers will join in the initiative, take a book on their summer holidays, read it, review it then pass it on to their colleagues."

Celebrity Book Givers

Guto Harri to Boris Johnson

Book:  Landscape Wales  (Graffeg)

"I must confess that I was surprised when Boris Johnson opened the door of his home and wished me a ‘Noswaith dda’ in that amazingly strong accent of his. I know that he contested a seat in Clwyd some years ago. I’m also aware of his love for ancient languages, but the number of Welsh words and phrases that he remembers is astonishing. He was very pleased to be given the book, too. At their best, Wales’s coastline and mountains are unrivalled, and this amazing book is a worthy tribute to their magic and beauty. Happy birthday, Mr Mayor."

Glan Davies to Max Boyce

Book:  Stephen Jones – O Clermont i Nantes nbsp;(Y Lolfa)

"It is a great idea to set aside a specific week to give books as gifts. Books make perfect gifts – they are easy to handle, and you can dip into a book as you like or read it in one sitting. As a keen follower of our national rugby team, I know that Max will appreciate being given Stephen Jones’s autobiography. Stephen is a rugby legend, a great player and has connections with the Aberystwyth area."

Iolo Williams to Jane Davidson AM

Book:  Llyfr Natur Iolo  (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch)

Wales has an amazing wealth of various habitats and I am sure that Jane Davidson, the Minister responsible for issues relating to the Welsh countryside, agrees with me that one way of protecting our wildlife and rich heritage is by sharing information about the subject, particularly among children and young people. That is the aim of Llyfr Natur Iolo and I am pleased to present a copy to Jane Davidson."

Dai Jones to Kate O’Sullivan

Book:  O’r Tir i’r Tŵr  by Charles Arch (Gwasg Gwynedd)

"I would like to give Kate O’Sullivan, a young Irish vet who lives in Llandre, Ceredigion, and who has learnt Welsh fluently, the autobiography of Charles Arch, who is a friend of mine.  O’r Tir i’r Tŵr  is a lively and colourful account of the life of a multi-talented man born and bred in rural Wales who has served his locality, and agriculture in particular, most honourably."

Maureen Rhys to John Gwilym Jones

Book:  Straeon Gwerin Ardal Eryri (Cyfrol 1)  by John Owen Huws (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch)

"In a few words, John, I would like to present this book to you as a token of my appreciation and my respect for you. As you are leaving Bangor after forty years as a minister at Pendref, I didn’t have to think twice about my choice, and as I was born in Snowdonia, I am sending you the first of three books by the late John Owen Huws – Straeon Gwerin Ardal Eryri.  I know full well that you don’t need to be given anything at all to remind you of the people and the area. It was the captivating content and beauty of this book that attracted me. Snowdonia leaps out from every page. Please accept this book, John, as a token of my gratitude for your untiring pastoral care.

Rhodri Meilir to his eagerly awaited niece/nephew

Book:  Llyfr Mawr y Plant - Goreuon y Pedair Cyfrol  by Jennie Thomas and J. O. Williams (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch)

"Before long I’ll be an uncle for the first time, as my sister, Alwena, is about to become a mum.  Top of the book list that gave me much pleasure as a child was  Llyfr Mawr y Plant,  with its exciting stories of the escapades of various colourful characters such as Wil Cwac Cwac, Siôn Blewyn Coch, Ifan Twrci Tena and Martha Plu Chwithig. Although the little one is not due to arrive until mid September, I’d like to present her/him with this masterpiece during Give a Book Week as I understand that reading to the bump is good for the unborn child (and it could help the father’s attempt at mastering our beautiful language!) I hope that the little one will derive as much pleasure as I did from listening to my parents reading the tales and perhaps she/he will be able to enjoy Bara Caws’s theatrical performance based on the book during the autumn – although I’m not too sure of the cast’s reactions to the possibility of having to compete with a human screaming machine."

Angharad Mair to daughters Tanwen and Efa

Book:  Barti Smarti a Straeon a Cherddi Eraill  by Caryl Parry Jones (Gwasg Gomer)

"I have chosen to give Caryl Parry Jones’s new book,  Barti Smarti,  to my two daughters, Tanwen and Efa. It is a beautiful volume of stories, poems and ballads which means that the children can choose, from one book, what to hear before going to sleep – a story or a poem. In encouraging the children to read, it is sometimes easier to get them interested in a big book full of colour pictures. It also inspires them to enjoy poems and, in doing so, to enjoy the sound of new words. The CD is very handy in the car, too!"

Alun Wyn Bevan to Glan Davies

Book:  Cyfres y Cymoedd – Cwm Aman,  edited by Professor Hywel Teifi Edwards (Gwasg Gomer)

 "I’d like to present  Cwm Aman  to Glan Davies, or Glan Pant-y-dŵr as everyone in Gwter Fawr (the old name for Brynaman) used to call him. He now lives in Aberystwyth, but he is very much respected in the Amman Valley for his contribution to drama and to light entertainment. He developed his talent with two of the greats, Elfyn Talfan Davies and Eic Davies, and the chapter discussing the development of drama in this book is sure to remind him of those good days."

Prys Morgan to Rhodri Morgan

Book: New edition of The Rebecca Rioter  (1880) by Amy Dillwyn (Honno)

"Amy Dillwyn was a friend of Emma Morgan, who lived in the Gower house where I live. She would walk across the fields from West Cross to play cards here, and would shock the more refined ladies by smoking a cigar. Her father and uncle were responsible for capturing one of the leaders of the Rebecca Riots in 1843, and a few weeks earlier our forefathers from Cwmcile, Llangyfelach, Morgan Morgan and his wife and family, were imprisoned for their part in the riots. We would both hear the story told by our kinsfolk, and I know that the matter has been an inspiration to Rhodri in his career."

Hywel Gwynfryn to Rhys Jones

Book:  Un Nos Ola Leuad  by Caradog Prichard (Y Lolfa)

"Caradog Prichard’s novel  Un Nos Ola Leuad  has been described as one of the classics of the Welsh language, indeed one of the best novels ever written in any language. Little wonder, then, that I’m taking great pleasure in re-reading it for the first time since my schooldays, in a new edition published by Y Lolfa. I’d like to send a copy of this novel to Prestatyn, to the home of Rhys Jones – broadcaster, conductor, coach and friend."

Beti George to Gwyn Llewelyn

Book:  Paradwys  by Wiliam Owen Roberts (Barddas)

"As a good Welshwoman, I have three reasons for my choice. Here is an epic novel discussing a subject that is as relevant as ever – capitalism, the enemy of justice. It is a great read by a wonderful author. There’s no need to fill the suitcase with books – this one will last for a week! I would like to give the book as a gift to Gwyn Llewelyn – rather than go travelling all over the world so often looking for his paradise, I can assure him that he’ll find it in this book without once leaving his armchair!" 

Lyn Ebenezer to Alun Wyn Bevan

Book:  Blodeugerdd o Farddoniaeth Gymraeg yr Ugeinfed Ganrif,  edited by Gwynn ap Gwilym and Alan Llwyd (Gomer)

"When asked to choose a book for a friend, I decided to nominate Alun Wyn Bevan as the recipient, and I decided immediately against giving him a book on rugby. It would have been impossible to find a rugby book that he does not already own. Alun, however, is much more than a rugby man. He is deeply immersed in his nation’s culture. So I chose for him a selection of twentieth-century Welsh poems. I present it to him in admiration and with thanks for his help when we both worked for five years at the Tinopolis television centre in Llanelli."

M. Wynn Thomas to his daughter Elin Manahan Thomas

Book:  Mr Cassini  by Lloyd Jones (Seren)

"Mr Cassini   takes us on a mystery tour of the wonderful psycho-geography of Welsh legend and history. It is centred on an individual’s search for himself, and is enthralling as it tracks the twists and turns of a wandering mind’s unpredictable adventures. The novel is a revelation for anyone wishing to understand the complex fate of being Welsh."

Max Boyce to Lyn Ebenezer

Book: Cyfaill neu Gaethwas? – Ceffylau’r Pyllau Glo  by Ceri Thompson National Museum Wales

"A few weeks ago a friend gave me a book as a gift, so I am taking the opportunity during Give a Book Week to give a copy of  Cyfaill neu Gaethwas? Ceffylau’r Pyllau Glo  to that friend, namely Lyn Ebenezer from Pontrhydfendigaid. This book tells the tale of the horses that spent their lives working underground in the coalmines. I know that Lyn will appreciate reading about these amazing animals."

Chris Needs to his godson Sam

Book:  Geiriau Anifeiliaid: First Animal Word Book in Welsh and English  by Edwina Riddell  (Dref Wen)

"There is nothing that I enjoy more than spending quality time with Sam, my little godson. Sharing a good book with a three-year-old is always a very special experience – and it’s so much fun! Books are a great means of building his vocabulary, both in English and Welsh, and I’ve chosen for him a colourful, bilingual picture book. So, Sam, our next book together will be  Geiriau Anifeiliaid: First Animal Word Book in Welsh and English.   I know that you’ll enjoy it – and so will I!"

Tori James to her sister Liv

Book:  Sugar  & Slate  by Charlotte Williams (Planet)

"If ever I want to share something Welsh, it’s normally with my sister Liv. Whether it’s the rugby result, Welsh music, television or in this instance a good book, it’ll be Liv that gets a phone call or an e-mail. She’s my best friend as well as my sister. We both choose to read as a way of relaxing in our busy lives, and since we’ve been living in culturally diverse cities we’ve taken a greater interest in cultural identities.  Sugar  & Slate  by Charlotte Williams sounds like just the kind of book my sister would pick off the shelf and that’s why I’ve chosen it for her. Happy reading, Liv!"

Glyn Davies to Lord Emlyn Hooson

Book:  Bro a Bywyd/His Life, His Land: Kyffin Williams,   edited by David Meredith and Dafydd Llwyd (Barddas)

"Sir Kyffin Williams was a man dedicated to the people and the countryside where he lived.  Not everyone agreed with his opinions but no-one could question his commitment. I’ve always looked on Lord Hooson in the same way. Emlyn and I might support different political philosophies, but we share the same love of Montgomeryshire and its people."

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