Children in Wales Make Space for Reading as Summer Reading Challenge Prepares for Lift-Off

Children in Wales Make Space for Reading as Summer Reading Challenge Prepares for Lift-Off

Get ready to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Summer Reading Challenge with Space Chase, a very special reading mission.

The Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Lord Elis-Thomas, launched the challenge in Newtown Library on Friday, 12 July 2019, and was joined by popular author and illustrator Max Low.

This year’s Summer Reading Challenge is Space Chase, which coincides with the 50th anniversary of the moon landings. Endorsed by parents, teachers, the Welsh Books Council and Welsh Government, the Summer Reading Challenge reaches children and young people of all ages, with over 40,000 children taking part last year in Wales.

Helgard Krause, Chief Executive of the Welsh Books Council, said: “The Summer Reading Challenge is an important and exciting initiative encouraging children to make time during the school summer holidays to read their favourite books. What is so fantastic is that you can take part in this challenge wherever you are – on holiday by the pool, in your bedroom or whilst you are sitting in your garden. I can’t wait to hear about what books you choose to read during the holidays and you can post your Summer Reading Challenge pictures on social media using the hashtag #SummerReadingChallenge.”

To take part in the Space Chase challenge, children can sign up for free at their local library, where they will be given their very own Space Chase mission folder to get them started. Those taking part must read at least six library books over the school summer holidays and collect stickers which will help them find aliens and complete the challenge.

Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Lord Elis-Thomas, said: “The Summer Reading Challenge is a key event for the summer holidays and I know libraries, schools and children all over Wales look forward to it every year because we all know how important it is for children to keep reading over the summer holidays. I’m delighted that the Welsh Government can support libraries to run the Challenge and this year’s theme of space chase will certainly capture the imagination of children across Wales and encourage them to join in for an out of this world adventure.”

Children are encouraged to use the Summer Reading Challenge website to create a profile, chat about books, and get information on what books to read next, via the digital Book Sorter, which offers over 600,000 peer-to-peer children’s book recommendations in child-friendly categories.

Helen Jones, Head of Children’s Books and Reading Promotion at the Welsh Books Council and former primary school teacher, said: “We find that when children return to school after the summer holidays, some have taken a step back and have not come into contact with books for six weeks, which can have a detrimental impact on their development. Reading can impact how children discuss their emotions, as well as their ability to share ideas and to understand the world around them. My advice would be to make time every day for reading with your children, whether it be five minutes or an hour, and to make this part of a daily routine. This will have a positive impact all round and I urge families across Wales to take part in this fun Summer Reading Challenge.”

The challenge also offers volunteering opportunities for young people, including placements at libraries to inspire them to think about their futures and gain useful life skills. Last year, 134 young people aged between 12 and 24 chose to take part in volunteering opportunities.

The Summer Reading Challenge is the UK’s biggest annual reading promotion for children aged 4–11. Its aim is to encourage children to visit their local libraries and inspire them to read for pleasure. During last year’s challenge 663,851 children’s books were issued in libraries across Wales and over 3,000 children joined the library as new members.

Children in Wales Make Space for Reading as Summer Reading Challenge Prepares for Lift-Off

Reading Champions at Aber

On 25 and 26 June, scores of children from 34 schools across Wales took over the Arts Centre in Aberystwyth for two days of keen competition. It was the national round of Darllen Dros Gymru, the Welsh Books Council’s Welsh-language books competition for primary schools.


All pupils were competing for the prestigious title of Darllen Dros Gymru 2019 Champions. The national round is the culmination of reading activities across Wales, with the regional winners making it through to the final in Aberystwyth. The challenge involves discussing books and performing short dramatic presentations based on titles they have read, and this year’s eagle-eyed judges were Mair Heulyn Rees and Rhian Cadwaladr. As part of the day’s activities, the children and teachers had the opportunity to enjoy sessions in the company of actor and author Meilyr Siôn who inspired the avid readers with a presentation based on his latest novel, Hufen Afiach (Atebol). Rob Kenyon, a teacher at Ysgol Sant Baruc, Vale of Glamorgan, said “The pupils really enjoyed the whole experience of discussing and performing the books. It gives us the opportunity to develop literacy in a relevant and fun way. The chance to meet the author was the icing on the cake.” The competition for Years 3 and 4 took place on Tuesday, 25 June, and Ysgol Llannon, Carmarthenshire were crowned national champions as well as taking the trophy for the best presentation with their interpretation of Llanast by Mari Lovgreen (Gomer). Ysgol y Garnedd, Gwynedd, came second and also took home the award for best discussion group, with Ysgol y Wern, Cardiff, in third place. On Wednesday, 26 June, it was the turn of pupils from Years 5 and 6 to compete, with Ysgol Gymraeg Rhydaman, Carmarthenshire as overall champions as well as discussion award winners. Ysgol Pen Barras, Denbighshire, took second place as well as the trophy for best performace for their interpretation of Pren a Chansen by Myrddin ap Dafydd (Carreg Gwalch), with Ysgol Sant Baruc, Vale of Glamorgan in third position. Helen Jones, Head of the Children’s Books and Reading Promotion Department at the Welsh Books Council, said: “Darllen Dros Gymru is a great opportunity for children to reach for a book, read it and really enjoy its content. Children can use their imagination, dissect the book’s themes and discuss what’s happening in the story. Special thanks go to the dedicated organisers for their hard work in the county rounds, and to the teachers and supporters for ensuring the success of this event.” Thanks to the support of Gomer, Carreg Gwalch, Y Lolfa, and Rily Publications, every child who took part was invited to choose a free book to take home.