The first in a hundred packs of free books have been delivered to families across Ceredigion this week.
In a new partnership between Ceredigion County Council, the Cambrian Rail Partnership and the Books Council of Wales, a selection of six books is being sent to 100 children and young people who receive support services through the local authority.
The packs include reading books for different ages and interests, as well as coloured pencils and a range of activity sheets.
The aim of the Ceredigion Love Reading scheme is to support the health, welfare and development of pupils during the Covid-19 period when schools have not been open as usual. It ensures they have easy access to a good selection of titles during the long summer holidays and is a long-term investment in a reading resource.
Councillor Catherine Hughes, Cabinet member for Porth Ceredigion, Early Intervention, Wellbeing Hubs and Culture, said: “This is the first scheme of its kind in Ceredigion to support children who are part of our services, in response to the coronavirus crisis. We are pleased to be able to work with the Books Council of Wales to select and provide a pack of suitable books for children involved in this scheme over the summer holidays. The scheme is an exciting opportunity to support families in challenging times and make valuable reading resources available.”
Helen Jones, Head of Children’s Books and Reading Promotion at the Books Council of Wales, said: “Research shows that children who own their own books are more likely to become lifelong readers, with all the benefits that brings. As a Books Council, we are delighted to be working with Ceredigion County Council on this exciting initiative which will bring joy to children across the county during a particularly difficult time.”
Most of the books in the packs have been published in Wales and reflect the best in writing and illustration for readers between the ages of 1 and 16.
The Summer Reading Challenge will be launched in Wales today by the Education Minister and the Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism.
The Summer Reading Challenge will be launched in Wales today by the Education Minister and the Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism.
The annual Challenge aims to get children between the ages of 4 and 11 to read six books over the summer holidays.
This year’s Challenge sees a shift to a new bilingual digital platform, supported by library e-lending services, online events and links to existing digital resources. The challenge includes both English and Welsh-medium books.
The theme of the Challenge this year is ‘Silly Squad’ and will celebrate funny books, happiness and laughter. Children taking part in the Challenge will join the Silly Squad, an adventurous team of animals who “love to have a laugh and get stuck into all sorts of funny books!
Last year, more than 37,000 children from across Wales took part in the Challenge. Over 3,000 children joined libraries as new members, and 33,000 children took part in library events.
The Education Minister, Kirsty Williams, said: “As a book lover myself, I know what a great pleasure it is to read over the holidays.
“Each year, thousands of children join libraries because of the Summer Reading Challenge, which is a really good way to develop reading skills, discover new authors and gain a lifelong passion for books.”
The Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Dafydd Elis-Thomas, said: “I’m really pleased the Welsh Government can support libraries with this year’s Challenge. The scheme has become an annual event for many children, who look forward to taking part every year.
“I’d like to thank all of the library staff involved in making the Summer Reading Challenge such a success in Wales.”
Nicola Pitman Chair of the Society of Chief Librarians Wales, said: “Libraries in Wales now have their biggest ever range of eBooks, comics and magazines to download, and this year’s Summer Reading Challenge is set to really help young readers and parents maximise opportunities to engage with fun topics and stories.
“Click & Collect services are also coming into place across the country to help access library books safely during this time. With a new-look website offering lots of great resources, ideas and incentives, we love how easy it is to sign up online and get started. We’re looking forward to everyone getting silly and joining the Summer Reading Challenge squad.”
Karen Napier, Chief Executive Officer of The Reading Agency, said: “We’re thrilled to be developing a bilingual Welsh/ English Summer Reading Challenge digital platform, which will be ready for families to enjoy from mid-July.
“The Reading Agency are committed to ensuring the proven power of reading is accessible for all. I’m looking forward to public libraries and families in Wales taking part in the Challenge and having a seriously silly summer!”
Chief Executive of the Books Council of Wales, Helgard Krause, said: “Nurturing and encouraging reading is more important at this time than ever before. Research clearly shows that picking up a book is not only good for our mental health and wellbeing – it also helps to strengthen and reinforce children’s language and educational skills. Good luck and enjoyment to everyone involved in this year’s Summer Reading Challenge.”
Further information can be found on the Summer Reading Challenge website: https://summerreadingchallenge.org.uk/
Books tackling some of the big issues of the day have won the 2020 Tir na n-Og Awards for children’s and young people’s literature in Welsh.
Pobol Drws Nesaf (‘The People Next Door’) by author Manon Steffan Ros and illustrator Jac Jones took the prize for the best title in the Welsh-language primary age category. Aimed at readers aged 3–7, this picture book urges us to respect each other and not judge someone who looks or behaves differently to us.
The prize for the best Welsh-language book in the secondary age category was won by Byw yn fy Nghroen (‘Living in my Skin’), edited by Sioned Erin Hughes. The book collates the difficult experiences of twelve young people who have had to struggle with long-term illness and health conditions. Aged between 10 and 26, the contributors discuss their mental and physical illnesses in detail, including cancer, epilepsy, Crohn’s disease, spina bifida, visual impairment, OCD, depression and anxiety.
The chair of the judging panel for the 2020 Tir na n-Og Welsh-language books, Gwawr Maelor Williams from Bangor University’s School of Education and Human Development, said: “The Tir na n-Og Award is not judged solely on the basis of its innovation or uniqueness or because it fills a gap. Byw yn fy Nghroen is also literature, although that may not be its primary intention. Powerful writing and skillful editing are required in order to write with conviction and authenticity, and to draw the reader into the experiences and anguish of others. We have here an important volume in the field of literature for young people.”
Byw yn fy Nghroen (Y Lolfa) was on the shortlist for the 2020 Tir na n-Og Awards in the Welsh-language secondary category with two other books – Tom(Y Lolfa) by Cynan Llwyd and Madi (Atebol) by Dewi Wyn Williams.
The editor of Byw yn fy Nghroen, Sioned Erin Hughes, said: “I am overwhelmed and delighted that the book has achieved what I had hoped it would achieve, namely raising awareness, understanding and empathy around health challenges facing young people.”
The other two books shortlisted with Pobol Drws Nesaf (Y Lolfa) in the Welsh-language primary category this year were Y Ddinas Uchel by Huw Aaron (Atebol) and Genod Gwych a Merched Medrus by Medi Jones-Jackson (Y Lolfa).
Commenting on Pobol Drws Nesaf, Gwawr Maelor said: “This book is a little gem because of the way in which the narrative, the illustrations and the simplicity of the story weave such a natural thread from beginning to end. We see the craft of two people at work in the book. It is a story which is easy to understand at first reading for a young reader, reading alone. Multiculturalism or the Welsh language are not forced in any way, nor is the need to accept everyone as they are, in this concise, authentically Welsh story. But they are there without being expressed and that’s the feat of this partnership between an experienced author and a skilled illustrator in their jewel of a book, Pobol Drws Nesaf.”
It’s the fifth time author Manon Steffan Ros from Tywyn in Gwynedd has won the Tir na n-Og Award: “It’s an honour to win a Tir na n-Og Award for a book as close to my heart as Pobol Drws Nesaf. The story itself is simple and light, and I think that’s important because in reality it carries a big message – that we need to celebrate our differences and respect everyone. It was a huge pleasure to work with Jac once more. He always brings a touch of magic to his illustrations, and draws out what lies between the words.”
Jac Jones said: “When a child opens a book, any book, they begin a journey into the understanding of fun, sadness, fear, joy and the gift of making choices. Manon’s wonderful book, Pobol Drws Nesaf, is a touchstone for all of these. Whatever nature’s palette, colours mix.”
The Tir na n-Og Awards are organised annually by the Books Council of Wales to reward the best books for children and young people in Wales in both Welsh and English. They are sponsored by CILIP Cymru Wales, the library and information association.
The Chief Executive of the Books Council of Wales, Helgard Krause, said: “The standard of the winning and the shortlisted books in the Tir na n-Og Awards has been outstanding this year, and I would like to thank everyone for their valuable work and contributions – as authors, editors, illustrators and publishers. Thanks to them, we are able to ensure that the shelves of our bookshops, libraries and schools offer children and young people a rich choice that stimulates, inspires and encourages them to read. Warmest congratulations to everyone involved.”
Amy Staniforth from CILIP Cymru said: “Librarians across Wales will be thrilled to share Pobol Drws Nesaf, Byw yn fy Nghroen and all the other brilliant Tir na n-Og books with their patrons in 2020. It is important that libraries offer Welsh-language content that both reflects and challenges the Wales we see around us, and the Tir na n-Og Awards are a fantastic opportunity to remember and celebrate this. Congratulations to Manon Steffan Ros, Jac Jones and Sioned Erin Hughes. Please keep up the good work!”
The Welsh-language winners of the 2020 Tir na n-Og Awards were announced live on S4C’s Heno programme on Friday, 10 July, with the two winning titles receiving a cheque for £1,000 and a specially commissioned poem, written by Bardd Plant Cymru (the Welsh-language Children’s Laureate) Gruffudd Owen and illustrated by artist Ruth Jên.
Announced on the Radio Wales Arts Show on Friday, 3 July, the winner of the English-language category of the 2020 Tir na n-Og Awards was Claire Fayers from Cardiff for her fantasy adventure story Storm Hound.
Author Claire Fayers has won the 2020 Tir na n-Og English-language award for her fantasy adventure story, steeped in Norse legend and Welsh mythology.
Storm Hound was one of four books with an authentic Welsh background shortlisted for the prestigious award for children’s and young people’s literature, which is organised annually by the Books Council of Wales.
The announcement of the winning title was made live on the Radio Wales Arts Show on Friday 3 July 2020.
Speaking about her win, Cardiff-based Claire Fayers said: “I am thrilled to have won this year’s Tir na n-Og English-language award. I have been reading books from the Tir na n-Og shortlists for as long as I can remember. They represent the best of Welsh literature for children and young people, so to actually win is an immense honour.”
Storm Hound (Macmillan Children’s Books) tells the story of Storm of Odin, the youngest stormhound of the Wild Hunt that haunts lightning-filled skies. He has longed for the time when he will be able to join his brothers and sisters but on his very first hunt he finds he can’t keep up and falls to earth, landing on the A40 just outside Abergavenny. Enter twelve-year-old Jessica Price, who finds and adopts a cute puppy from an animal rescue centre. In an electrifying adventure, she soon starts to see that there’s something different about her beloved dog.
The Chair of the 2020 Tir na n-Og English-language judging panel, Eleri Twynog Davies, said: “Congratulations to Storm Hound – a magical story, with strong themes of friendship and belonging. The characters were wonderfully developed and presented us with moments of humour and poignancy.
“All four books on the shortlist had their stories set against a Welsh background, where a sense of place contributed to the their overall appeal. This is one of the central criteria for this award, and one which we as judges felt was lacking in many of the other entries. It is so important that the children of Wales can see themselves reflected in Welsh literature, and that children outside Wales have a window on another culture.”
The three other titles shortlisted for the 2020 Tir na n-Og English-language award were The Secret Dragon by Ed Clarke (Puffin), Max Kowalski Didn’t Mean It by Susie Day (Puffin) and Where Magic Hides by Cat Weatherill (Gomer).
Helgard Krause, Chief Executive of the Books Council of Wales, said: “Instilling a love of reading in our children and young people is incredibly important. Not only does it help develop their knowledge and literacy skills, it also supports their mental health and well-being. The Tir na n-Og Awards help celebrate great writing for the younger generation and ensure that stories with a distinctive Welsh setting are represented in the best of our country’s literature. Our sincere thanks and congratulations to all involved in this year’s awards, but particularly today to Claire Fayers.”
Amy Staniforth from CILIP Cymru Wales, which sponsors the Tir na n-Og Awards, said: “After such a difficult few months for everyone, CILIP Cymru Wales are just delighted to congratulate Claire Fayers on winning this year’s Tir na n-Og English-language award. We know that librarians all over Wales will be excited to be able to share Storm Hound with their users via their click and collect services.”
Nicola Heywood Thomas, presenter of the Radio Wales Arts Show, said: “New writing for children and young people is so important to fire their imagination and to get them hooked on books. Great stories have an impact that can stay with readers throughout their lives. This award showcases the brilliant range of talent in Wales. Congratulations to all involved.”
Claire Fayers was presented with a cheque for £1,000 and a specially commissioned poem by Children’s Laureate Wales Eloise Williams.
The winners of the Welsh-language categories of the 2020 Tir na n-Og Awards will be announced on S4C’s Heno programme at 6.30pm on Friday, 10 July.
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