New video released to mark Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 

To mark Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 we are pleased to release a new video introducing the Reading Well Books on Prescription for children scheme.

Reading Well Books on Prescription for children provides helpful reading to support children’s mental health and well-being. The books provide quality-assured information, stories and advice. Books have been chosen and recommended by health professionals and co-produced with children and families.

The Reading Well Books on Prescription scheme is led by The Reading Agency and aims to support people to understand and manage their health and well-being using helpful reading.

The books are all recommended by leading health bodies, as well as people with lived experience of the conditions and topics covered.

You can be recommended a title by a health professional or visit your local library and take a book out yourself.

In Wales, the Books Council is working with The Reading Agency to ensure titles are available in the Welsh language, and the Welsh Government is supporting The Reading Agency to deliver Reading Well in all 22 library authorities in Wales.

Further details can be found on The Reading Agency’s website.

New Trustees appointed to Books Council of Wales

New Trustees appointed to Books Council of Wales

The Books Council of Wales has appointed seven new Trustees to lead the national charity in its work of supporting the publishing industry and promoting reading.

Rajvi Glasbrook Griffiths, Alwena Hughes Moakes, Lowri Ifor, Professor Carwyn Jones, Linda Tomos, Professor Gerwyn Wiliams and Dr Caroline Owen Wintersgill will take up their positions on the new Board of Trustees on 1 April 2021.

The Board will be responsible for the governance of the Books Council and will oversee the direction and strategy of the national charity.

Four of the Books Council’s current Trustees will also transfer from the Executive Committee to the new Board, namely Professor M. Wynn Thomas (Chair), Rona Aldrich (Vice-Chair), Professor Jane Aaron (Honorary Secretary) and Chris Macey (Honorary Treasurer).

Professor M. Wynn Thomas, Chair of the Books Council, said: “As we approach the organisation’s sixtieth birthday, we are pleased to announce the formation of a Board of Trustees that includes eminent representatives from the worlds of government, business, cultural management and international publishing. The Board will support the Council’s specialist in-house team of experienced professionals serving the book industries of Wales in both Welsh and English.

“This is another exciting development that will ensure the Books Council of Wales is equipped with a governance and management structure well able to respond to the challenges of an industry that is in a state of perpetual change.”

Helgard Krause, Chief Executive of the Books Council, said: “In the year of the Council’s anniversary, I look forward to working with the new Board as we set a strategy for these challenging times and ensure the success of the publishing industry in Wales for the future. As a charity we appreciate the very important contribution made by our Trustees, who give of their time and expertise voluntarily to support the books sector in Wales.”

New Trustees

Rajvi Glasbrook Griffiths has worked in the teaching profession in Wales since 2009 and is Headteacher of High Cross Primary School in Newport. She has been the Director of Literature Caerleon since 2014 and Director of the Caerleon Gateway Project since 2016, as well as an Advisory Board member for Planet magazine. Mrs Glasbrook Griffiths is also a member of the Welsh Government’s Race Equality Action Plan Committee and its Working Group on Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Communities, Contributions and Cynefin in the New Curriculum.

Alwena Hughes Moakes is the Global Head of Employee Engagement and Communications for an international agriculture company with its headquarters in Basel, Switzerland. Before relocating to Switzerland, Alwena held senior roles at Aberystwyth University, most recently as Director of Communications, Marketing and Public Affairs. Originally from Mold, Flintshire, Alwena is a seasoned communications professional with over 20 years’ experience across the public and private sectors.

Lowri Ifor is a former teacher who has worked for the Welsh Slate Museum since 2018 as an Education and Events Officer and who also teaches a Welsh for Adults class. She was Children’s Books Editor at Gwasg Carreg Gwalch press from 2018–2019 and has been one of the editors of the Codi Pais magazine since 2018, as well as a member of the Noson Pedwar a Chwech committee which organises Welsh-language musical and literary events in the Caernarfon area.

Professor Carwyn Jones is a former First Minister of Wales (2009–2018) and was a Member of the Senedd for Bridgend from 1999–2021. After graduating in law from Aberystwyth University, he went on to train as a barrister in London before working in legal practice at Gower Chambers, Swansea, for 10 years. He was appointed part-time Professor in the Department of Law and Criminology at Aberystwyth University in 2019.

Linda Tomos has been a chartered librarian since 1975 and was the National Librarian for Wales from 2015–2019, leading the strategy of the National Library in Aberystwyth. She worked previously as a senior civil servant with the Welsh Government and was the first Director of CyMAL: Museums, Archives and Libraries Wales within the Department for Culture, Sport and Tourism. A former Chair of the Library and Information Services Council for Wales, she was Chair of the BBC Education Broadcasting Council Wales between 1999 and 2003 and Chair of the National Trust’s Advisory Board in Wales between 2016 and 2020.

Professor Gerwyn Wiliams has been Professor of Welsh at Bangor University since 2005, and has worked at the School of Welsh since 1989. He has been a member of the Advisory Board of O’r Pedwar Gwynt magazine since 2019 and a member of the Board of Directors of Theatr Bara Caws since 2018. A former winner of the National Eisteddfod Crown (1994) and the Wales Book of the Year Award (1997), he has also judged a number of literature competitions including the National Eisteddfod’s Prose Medal in 2017 and the Wales Book of the Year in 2011. He was a board member of the Arts Council of Wales between 2010 and 2016.

Dr Caroline Owen Wintersgill is a Lecturer in Publishing at University College London and Programme Director for the MA in Publishing. She has a PhD on reading, writing and publishing contemporary fiction, which involved work with reading groups across the UK as well as interviews with authors and publishers. Before moving into academia, Caroline worked for more than 25 years for leading publishers including Routledge, Bloomsbury and Manchester University Press. Alongside her teaching, Caroline has been editor-at-large for Biteback Publishing and Senior Consulting Editor for the US-based independent publisher, Lynne Rienner, since 2015.


Full meetings of the Board of Trustees will be held four times a year.

On 1 April 2021, the Books Council of Wales will transfer from being an unregistered charity to a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO).

Members of the Council of the Books Council of Wales, which includes representatives from local authorities and other organisations, will transfer as members of the charity and will meet formally once a year at a public Annual General Meeting.

Tir na n-Og Children’s Book Awards 2021 English-language shortlist

Tir na n-Og Children’s Book Awards 2021 English-language shortlist

Three stories exploring Wales at different times through history feature in the English-language books shortlisted for the Tir na n-Og Children’s Book Awards 2021 announced today (12 March 2021) on the Radio Wales Arts Show.

The periods of history range from the early Middle Ages when Welsh national identity was gathering strength in The Short Knife by Elen Caldecott, to a family emigrating from Wales to the USA at the turn of the twentieth century in The Quilt by Valériane Leblond, and a contemporary story set in the Celtic rainforest of north Wales in Where the Wilderness Lives by Jess Butterworth.

Organised by the Books Council of Wales and sponsored by CILIP Cymru Wales, the annual awards celebrate the best books for children and young adults published in 2020.

There are three main categories: Welsh-language books for primary school age, Welsh-language books for secondary school age, and English-language books with an authentic Welsh background for children and young people.

This is the first time Jess Butterworth and Elen Caldecott have been shortlisted for the awards and the first time Valériane Leblond has been nominated as both an author and illustrator. The Short Knife has also been longlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2021.

English-language Shortlist

  • Where the Wilderness Lives by Jess Butterworth (Orion, 2020) for ages 9+ centres around the character of Cara who lives on a houseboat with her mum, siblings and a dog called Willow. Her dad used to live with them but now lives in a remote part of Wales. The adventure starts when Cara and her siblings find a locked safe one day when they are helping with a clean-up of the canal where they live. A fire destroys their houseboat one night, and while her mum is in hospital and Cara is looking after her siblings, a thief comes to steal the safe. The children leave the house they are temporarily living in to travel in their houseboat with the safe to go to their dad, and then on foot on a journey of survival across Welsh mountains in the snow.
  • The Short Knife by Elen Caldecott (Andersen Press, 2020) for ages 12+ is a story set many centuries ago, in the early Middle Ages, 454, at a time when a new Welsh identity was just starting to emerge, when the Romans had left and the Britons and Saxons were battling to take hold of different territories. It is narrated through the voice of the main character, Mai, a young girl, who up until now, along with her sister Haf, has been kept safe by her father. The story starts with the arrival of Saxon warriors at their farm, forcing the family to flee to the hills where British warlords lie in wait. From here we see Mai surviving in a dangerous world where just speaking her mother tongue could lead to her death, and where she comes to mistrust even the people she loves the most.
  • The Quilt by Valériane Leblond (Y Lolfa, 2020) for ages 5+ is a beautiful, lyrical story about a little girl who lives with her parents on a farm near the coast in rural Wales, around the turn of the twentieth century. Life is hard and the family decide to emigrate to America. To pay for the cost of their journey they sell their possessions but keep a black and red quilt hand-made by the mother from pieces of fabric left over from clothes she has made for the family. Leaving everything familiar behind brings homesickness and a longing – hiraeth – for the little girl, and it is the memories and love contained in the quilt that help her overcome these feelings and adapt to her new life.

Jo Bowers, Chair of the English-language judging panel, said: “All three books had their stories set against a rich authentic Welsh background, which is a central criteria for this award, and each one did this in a very different way to the others. Each book stood out for many reasons: the sense of place and time in Wales and Welsh history; the overall design as each book had very attractive front covers and either illustrations or design features in the body of the text, and each surprised and engaged in both the style and content of the story. We felt that each one brought new aspects about Wales in children’s literature.”

Chief Executive of the Books Council of Wales, Helgard Krause, said: “My warmest congratulations to all those involved in bringing these three shortlisted titles to readers. It is so important to ensure that young readers in Wales have a choice of high-quality books which reflect the country and culture in which they live.”

Welsh-language Shortlist

The Welsh-language books shortlisted for the Tir na n-Og Awards 2021 was announced on the Heno programme on S4C on Thursday, 11 March.

The shortlisted titles in the Welsh-language primary age category are Ble Mae Boc – Ar Goll yn y Chwedlau (‘Where is Boc – Lost in the Legends’) by Huw Aaron (Y Lolfa, 2020), Mae’r Cyfan i Ti (’It’s All For You’) by Luned Aaron (Atebol, 2020) and Sw Sara Mai (‘Sara Mai’s Zoo’) by Casia Wiliam (Y Lolfa, 2020).

The books shortlisted in the Welsh-language secondary age category are Y Castell Siwgr (‘The Sugar Castle’) by Angharad Tomos (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, 2020), Llechi (‘Slates’) by Manon Steffan Ros (Y Lolfa, 2020), and #helynt (‘#trouble’) by Rebecca Roberts (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, 2020).

The winners of the Welsh-language categories will be announced on S4C’s Heno programme at 19:00 on Thursday, 20 May, while the winning English-language title will be revealed on the Radio Wales Arts Show on 21 May at 18:30.

Further details about the awards and the shortlisted books are available on the Books Council of Wales website.

Tir na n-Og Awards 2021 Welsh-language shortlist revealed

Tir na n-Og Awards 2021 Welsh-language shortlist revealed

The Books Council of Wales is delighted to announce the six Welsh-language books shortlisted for the 2021 Tir na n-Og Awards, which celebrate the best books from Wales for children and young people.

The primary age category includes Ble Mae Boc – Ar Goll yn y Chwedlau by Huw Aaron (Y Lolfa), Mae’r Cyfan i Ti by Luned Aaron (Atebol) and Sw Sara Mai by Casia Wiliam (Y Lolfa).

The books reaching the shortlist in the secondary age category are Y Castell Siwgr by Angharad Tomos (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch), Llechi by Manon Steffan Ros (Y Lolfa) and #helynt by Rebecca Roberts (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch).

Hywel James, Chair of the panel of judges for the Welsh-language primary and secondary categories, said: “As judges, we have been able to graze our way through a feast of children’s and young people’s literature. All the books offered a wonderful choice to young readers, and contributed to our literature by filling gaps that feed the imagination and develop their understanding of the past or an awareness of the world around them.

“This year’s titles included some very attractive picture story books by new authors and illustrators, a development that deserves special praise for creating high quality original publications. There were very impressive titles in the young adults’ category too, with some quite shocking content as they strived to convey the challenges of coming of age either in contemporary Wales or at key stages in our history.”

Helgard Krause, Chief Executive of the Books Council of Wales, said: “Our warmest congratulations to the shortlisted authors and our thanks to everyone across the book sector in Wales for ensuring not only that our judges were provided once more with a range of high-quality publications, but also that there is a selection of excellent books available to young readers in Wales. I would also like to thank our judges for their valuable work and feedback which helps to maintain and improve standards year on year.”

The Welsh-language shortlists were revealed on S4C’s Heno programme on Thursday, 11 March, and the programme will announce the names of the winners on Thursday, 20 May 2021.

Primary Age Shortlist

  • Ble Mae Boc – Ar Goll yn y Chwedlau by Huw Aaron (Y Lolfa)

Summary: 10 illustrated double pages, with each spread offering a chance to find Boc, the little red dragon, who’s hiding in every picture. A uniquely Welsh twist on the Where’s Wally? books.

A taste of what the judges had to say: “This is a volume that offers a fantastic feast of pictures and hours of amusement for a child as they try to find the little dragon… It’s an ideal gift book for all ages.”

  • Mae’r Cyfan i Ti by Luned Aaron (Atebol)

Summary: A tender and sensitive bedtime story for a parent to present the wonders of the natural world to a child. We follow the whole day from dawn to dusk as we read about the wonderful world that awaits the child.

A taste of what the judges had to say: “A very high-quality picture story book. The simplicity of telling the story through poetry is ideal for the nursery age group and brilliantly conveys the element of surprise that young children have about the world around them as well as nostalgia on the part of the adult.”

  • Sw Sara Mai by Casia Wiliam (Y Lolfa)

Summary: Welcome to the world of Sara Mai, where cleaning up elephant poo is a lot more appealing than going to school, and where it’s much easier to understand the behaviour of a bear from South Africa than the other girls in Year 5.

A taste of what the judges had to say: “This is a novel that deals with a contemporary subject, tackling the issue of bullying and prejudice against people from a different ethnic background. The story grips the reader from the beginning with plenty of details about the characters without overwhelming us or slowing the flow of the story, which holds our attention to the end.”

Secondary Age Shortlist

  • #helynt by Rebecca Roberts (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch)

Summary: Missing the bus to school can change your life… Rather than go home, Rachel decides to go on an adventure in the town of Rhyl (after all, the bailiffs have taken her father’s car), and she finds herself in a seaside nightclub. She feels safe there, a different experience to school where she is bullied because of her disability.

A taste of what the judges had to say: “It is a story that grips the reader from beginning to end, conveying some of the real impact of poverty and domestic violence on a young person in contemporary Wales… This is an excellent, perhaps ‘classic’, example of a teenage ‘genre’ book – and that is not an easy feat to achieve.”

  • Llechi by Manon Steffan Ros (Y Lolfa)

Summary: Gwenno is dead – perfect, clever, beautiful Gwenno, who was popular with both swots and cool people. Her body was found in the slate mine, the police are everywhere around Bethesda, and everyone is looking for her.

A taste of what the judges had to say: “The murder mystery story line of this novel is very similar to some contemporary popular television series, and so this story will certainly appeal greatly to a wide range of readers.”

  • Y Castell Siwgr by Angharad Tomos (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch)

Summary: Two girls on two continents. One lord with a thirst for profit. A heart-wrenching story about a slave girl, a maid, a ship and a castle, and about suffering beyond imagination.

A taste of what the judges had to say: “This novel takes us to challenging new territory with the story of two young girls, Dorcas and Yamba, and although the novel is in two parts, the links between them strengthen the narrative… This volume is a very important contribution to Welsh literature and will appeal to both young people and adults.”

Organised by the Books Council of Wales and sponsored by CILIP Cymru Wales, the annual awards celebrate the best books for children and young adults published in 2020.

The English-language books shortlisted for the 2021 Tir na n-Og Awards will be announced on the Radio Wales Arts Show at 18:30 on Friday, 12 March 2021.

Share a story on World Book Day 2021

Share a story on World Book Day 2021

The Books Council of Wales is encouraging people across Wales to share a story in celebration of World Book Day 2021 on Thursday 4 March.

Sharing a story could include reading at home with the family, sharing a story with your pet, reading in your favourite place, reading in an unusual location and more!

With only a week to go before the big day, the Books Council is also asking people to share their reading photos on social media during March, using the hashtags #ShareAStory #WorldBookDayWales. Prizes for the best pictures will be awarded at the end of the month.

The winners of a special competition organised jointly by the Books Council and Huw Aaron will also be announced on 4 March on BBC Radio Cymru’s Aled Hughes programme between 9 and 11 a.m.

The challenge for contestants was to identify as many characters as possible from Welsh children’s books and television programmes in a colourful poster designed by Huw Aaron for his book Ble mae Boc? Ar goll yn y chwedlau, published by Y Lolfa in November 2020.

Meet the Authors

World Book Day celebrations look very different this year with a number of author sessions happening in a virtual way. The past year has shown the need for flexibility and also the value of having quality material to promote reading in a digital format. To help inspire young people to pick up a book and read for pleasure, the first in a series of videos with some of Wales’ leading children’s authors will be released on the Books Council’s website and social media channels on 4 March, featuring short readings as well as activities.

The main aim of these resources is to support families and schools whilst they are distance learning but they will also be a valuable resource for classroom use once schools re-open for all ages.

The authors include Huw Aaron, Lund Aaron, Myrddin ap Dafydd, Huw Davies, Nicola Davies, Malachy Doyle, Valériane Leblond, Lucy Owen and Manon Steffan Ros. More videos featuring authors from Wales will be published over the coming months.

Books and writing from Wales will also be showcased on the cultural digital platfform AM on World Book Day.

Helgard Krause, Chief Executive of the Books Council of Wales, said: “World Book Day is an opportunity for us to celebrate our love of books but the transformative power of reading is with us all year round. Although we may not be able to hold our usual events this year, the message is the same – that reading for pleasure does us all a world of good, in these difficult times perhaps more than ever. So celebrate with us by sharing a story on the 4th of March as a family, with friends from afar, or even your cat or dog!”

Angharad Sinclair, Project Manager in the Books Council’s Department of Children’s Books and Reading Promotion, added: “Reading can open the door on new worlds and experiences, and we are delighted to be able to offer a great range of £1 books once again this year ensuring that a choice of Welsh-language books is available alongside the English. Research shows that spending 10 minutes a day reading with a child makes a big difference to their future success and the aim of this special day is to ensure that all children have access to the world of books and the benefits they bring.”

£1 Book Token

World Book Day is now celebrated in 100 countries across the world and aims to promote reading for pleasure, offering all children and young people the opportunity to have their own book.

As part of the annual event, children in the UK and Ireland receive a £1 book token which they can either exchange for one of the £1 World Book Day books or use towards buying another book.

Ha Ha Cnec! Jôcs Twp a Twpach (Broga) by Huw Aaron is the brand new £1 Welsh-language book for World Book Day 2021 and is available now through bookshops across Wales.  

Three other Welsh-language books are available for £1 this year namely Stori Cymru – Iaith a Gwaith (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch) by Myrddin ap Dafydd, Na, Nel!  (Y Lolfa) by Meleri Wyn James, and Darllen gyda Cyw (Y Lolfa) by Anni Llŷn.

The World Book Day £1 books are a gift from booksellers, who fully fund the cost of the £1 book token redemptions. The £1 books are also available in braille, large print & audio via Guide Dogs and RNIB. 

World Book Day book tokens are valid from Thursday 18 February – Sunday 28 March 2021 but participating booksellers will honour the tokens beyond the 28 March while stocks last. Please contact your local bookseller to check if they are able to offer £1 off other titles. Read the full terms and conditions here

While bookshop doors are temporarily closed, they are still open for business online and over the phone offering a click-and-collect or mail delivery service. Details of all independent bookshops in Wales can be found on the Books Council’s website.

Further information

  • The World Book Day campaign in Wales is coordinated by the Books Council of Wales and supported by the Welsh Government and Waterstones.
  • Every year, with a host of publishers and booksellers, World Book Day curates a list of bespoke £1 books for children and young people across the UK and Ireland.
  • World Book Day’s mission is to encourage children and young people to explore the pleasures of books and reading by providing them with the opportunity to have a book of their own.
Copyright permissions temporarily increased to support schools during lockdown 

Copyright permissions temporarily increased to support schools during lockdown 

Copyright permissions on re-using published material in schools and colleges have been temporarily increased during lockdown, following efforts by the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA), the Books Council of Wales and the publishing industry.

The CLA announced on 9 February 2021 that, following consultation with their members, there will be a temporary increase in the copying limit in the Education Licence from the current 5% to 20% until 31 March 2021.

And the Books Council of Wales has made special arrangements with some of the country’s main publishers to make it easier for teachers to use their material during the Covid-19 pandemic.

CLA Education Licence

The temporary changes to the terms of the Licence mean that teachers can copy up to 20% of a print book, owned by the school, including scanned book content held on the school VLE. 

The move, which applies to schools, sixth form and further education colleges in the UK, will give teachers and students more flexibility to access resources to support remote learning while schools are closed.

Education Platform users will also be able to copy up to 20% of a digital book available on the CLA’s Platform during this period.

Licensed schools should read the full conditions on the CLA website. The CLA has also published guidelines for teachers explaining their copying rights under the standard terms of the Education Licence.

All Local Education Authorities in Wales are currently registered with the CLA which means that the terms of the Licence are applicable to all their schools.

Publishers’ Permissions in Wales

The Books Council of Wales has also agreed special temporary permissions with a number of publishers in Wales for re-using published material in schools during the pandemic.

The aim is to make it easier for teachers to use content from books to support remote learning, including for example their ability to record and share book readings with pupils.

The terms and conditions of use vary from publisher to publisher, and full details of the temporary permissions agreed in Wales are available on the Books Council’s website.

Helen Jones, Head of Children’s Books and Reading Promotion at the Books Council of Wales, said: “This is a challenging time for everyone, and schools in particular who continue to offer a quality education at a time when most pupils are learning from home. In today’s exceptional circumstances, we welcome the CLA’s announcement that copyright permissions are being increased to support educators through the latest lockdown. We are also very grateful to the publishers in Wales for their ready cooperation and support for children’s education, during what is also a difficult time for them as commercial enterprises.”