Thousands of Welsh children enjoyed reading during the summer holidays

Welsh Books Council

Thousands of Welsh children enjoyed reading during the summer holidays - 28 November 2018

Large numbers of children were excited to take part in a Beano-inspired reading adventure at their local library this summer across Wales and the rest of the UK, according to new statistics released on Friday by The Reading Agency.

A total of  40,213  children across Wales took part in the Mischief Makers 2018 Summer Reading Challenge at their local library, supported in Wales by the Welsh Books Council. An additional  2,844  children under four took part with special pre-school materials, which was a rise of 19.5%  on the previous year.

The 2018 Summer Reading Challenge was in partnership with Beano  to mark its 80th  anniversary.

During the summer holidays,  3,068  children joined the library as new members and  28,042  children participated in a variety of library events across Wales.

The challenge was supported by  278  volunteers in libraries over the summer, and  134  of these were young people aged 12-24.

The Summer Reading Challenge encourages children to attend their local libraries and is run by all the library authorities in Wales. With the increasing pressure on the public library system, it is encouraging that the participation figures are being maintained, only down by 0.6% from the previous year.

Helgard Krause, Chief Executive of the Welsh Books Council, said: "We are incredibly proud to support the Summer Reading Challenge, an invaluable programme that does so much to promote and encourage reading for pleasure and its many benefits. It is wonderful to see that over 40,000 children in Wales have taken part in the challenge at their local library this year and this is testament to the hard work of library staff across Wales."

The Summer Reading Challenge encouraged children to read six or more books of their choice from the library during the school summer holidays. There were collectable incentives and rewards, as well as a certificate for every child who completed the challenge. During the challenge,  663,851  children's books were issued in libraries across Wales.

Research shows that only 1 in 4 boys read outside of school every day. This year's Summer Reading Challenge participant report shows that in Wales 44% of those who took part in the 'Mischief Makers' scheme were boys.

Libraries across Wales received feedback from children and parents who got involved with the challenge. One child at Merthyr Library said: "I like doing the reading challenge because I have fun choosing my own books to read. My friends were all jealous when the library lady came and gave the certificates out, and we went up on stage."

A parent of a child who took part in the Summer Reading Challenge said: "The library is so important to help keep up with lots of interesting book choices through the holidays when the children's interest tends to wane. My daughter loved collecting her stickers and was so pleased when she had her certificate presented at school - in the photograph you can see how proud she is - she had an epic hooray face."

The Reading Agency, along with the UK public library network, has developed and delivered the Summer Reading Challenge since 1999. It is the UK's biggest annual reading promotion for children aged 4-11. The challenge draws children into their local libraries and inspires them to read for pleasure by combining free access to books with fun social activities and a creative online element.

Rhianwen Long, a librarian at Merthyr Tydfil Central Library, said: "The Summer Reading Challenge this year sparked a great deal of interest and playing host to the launch in Wales was a wonderful opportunity to work with schools and children across the County Borough. We have supported the challenge year on year in Merthyr Tydfil and really enjoy being able to play our part in ensuring children improve their literacy skills through reading for pleasure."

Next year, for the 20th  anniversary of the Summer Reading Challenge, the theme is 'Space Chase', to coincide with the 50th  Anniversary of the Moon landings. The guest illustrator is Adam Stower, and children in libraries helped select Adam from a shortlist of illustrators in 2017.

For future Summer Reading Challenges, children can sign up at their local library as the summer holidays begin.

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