Well-being packs for your carers in Ceredigion this summer

Well-being packs for your carers in Ceredigion this summer

Well-being packs for young carers in Ceredigion this summer

80 packs of books are being sent to young carers across Ceredigion to support their well-being and encourage their reading journeys this summer. Young carers face the difficulty of balancing and juggling their caring responsibilities with those of everyday life, including their own education. These well-being packs will be a boost for them and a recognition of the excellent work they are doing every day.

These packs have been provided in a partnership between Ceredigion County Council and the Books Council of Wales, and they include a selection of six reading books, a packet of bee-friendly seeds, a reusable water bottle and some delicious Welsh chocolate, as well as a Young Carers Skills Journal.

The aim of the Ceredigion Love Reading scheme is to support the health, well-being and reading development of vulnerable groups of children and young people, especially due to the increased demands and difficulties faced as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Last summer 100 packs were sent to 100 families with children who received support services through the local authority.

Councillor Catherine Hughes, Ceredigion County Council Cabinet Member and Champion for Carers, said: “I’m very proud of this fantastic initiative between the Books Council of Wales and the Local Authority to provide such meaningful well-being packs to our young carers. Being a young carer is challenging at best, but added pressures have been introduced over recent months due to the pandemic. We hope that the well-being packs will bring our young carers great pleasure as we recognize their excellent work.”

Angharad Sinclair, Project Development Manager for the Children’s Books and Reading Promotion Department at the Books Council of Wales, said: “It is wonderful to be working with Ceredigion County Council again on such a worthwhile initiative which will provide a confidence boost and recognition of the achievements of these young carers during a particularly difficult time. Escaping into a book can be such an effective way for us all to take a break from the daily pressures of life, and we hope these book packs will encourage their own reading journey too.”

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 8 and 18.


Books Council of Wales Annual Meeting

Books Council of Wales Annual Meeting


The Books Council of Wales’ Annual Meeting will be held on Monday, 26 July at 12.00pm on Zoom

Keynote speech will be given by Professor Charlotte Williams OBE on Harnessing ‘book power’ for race equality in Wales.

Send us an email on castellbrychan@books.wales for the link to the meeting.

Further information: Charlotte Williams OBE, academic and writer, is Honorary Professor in the School of History, Philosophy and Social Sciences at Bangor University and holds honorary appointments at Glyndŵr University and the University of South Wales. Alongside her academic career, Charlotte has held a number of public appointments for Welsh Government, most recently as Chair of the Ministerial Working Group ‘Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Communities, Contributions and Cynefin in the New Curriculum’, 2020–2021. She is a recently appointed Patron of Planet magazine and Project Steering Group member for National Theatre Wales’ Festival 2022. Charlotte is co-editor of the ground-breaking text A Tolerant Nation? Revisiting Ethnic Diversity in a Devolved Wales (UWP, 2003 and 2015), and her memoir, Sugar and Slate (2002), was awarded the Welsh Book of the Year prize in 2003. She is on the judging panel for Wales Book of the Year 2021, having previously judged the competition in 2005. Charlotte was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List (2007) for services to ethnic minorities and equal opportunities in Wales

Darllen Dros Gymru 2021 Winners

Darllen Dros Gymru 2021 Winners

This year’s Darllen Dros Gymru competition was held in a very different way to usual. The tasks set for the readers remained the same; to discuss a book of their choice from a set list and to present a short performance advertising another book. Llinos Penfold adjudicated the discussions, and Mari Lovgreen the performances. Given the current circumstances this year’s competition was held on-line.

Year 3 and 4 pupils were the first to take part. Ysgol y Felinheli came first with their discussion of Llyfr Mawr Adar y Plant by Onwy Gower (Y Lolfa), and their performance based on Cadi a’r Celtiaid by Bethan Gwanas (Y Lolfa).  Ysgol y Gelli and Ysgol Llanbrynmair were joint second and Ysgol Penrhyn-coch came third in the competition.

In the competition for year 5 6 pupils Ysgol Eglwyswrw won the first prize with their discussion of Asiant A: Her Ll by Anni Llŷn (Y Lolfa) and their performance based on Trio: Antur y Castell by Manon Steffan Ros (Atebol).  Second prize went to Ysgol Gymraeg Rhydaman and Ysgol Y Wern came third.

The judges said that it was an honour to judge this year’s competition and that all the children, teachers, and assistants had made a phenomenal effort with the competition.

Wild World Heroes Summer Reading Challenge 2021

Wild World Heroes Summer Reading Challenge 2021

Go wild for reading with the Summer Reading Challenge 2021 Wild World Heroes – online or at your local library

  • Summer Reading Challenge launching in libraries across Wales and England 10 July 2021 (launched in Scotland and N. Ireland on 19 June)
  • ‘Wild World Heroes’ theme, in partnership with WWF, to encourage children across the country to engage in fun reading activity focused on environmental issues
  • Online Challenge platform offers digital rewards for reading, supporting reading catch-up after a difficult year for children
  • Exciting new content from authors and illustrators from Wales, thanks to support from Welsh Government
  • Libraries planning an exciting programme of supporting events and activities
  • Challenge being sponsored by Pearson and OverDrive Education – both organisations committed to keep children reading this summer
  • WWF to host virtual events including school seminars and live lessons

 #SummerReadingChallenge #WildWorldHeroes

The Reading Agency’s Summer Reading Challenge, in partnership with WWF, is delighted to announce that teenage naturalist, award-winning writer and broadcaster Dara McAnulty, and award-winning explorer, presenter and writer Steve Backshall, are ambassadors for the Summer Reading Challenge 2021, as the full plans for the campaign are unveiled.

The Summer Reading Challenge, delivered in partnership with public libraries, encourages reading for pleasure for children aged 4 to 11 over the summer holidays. The Challenge will be launched in libraries across Wales and England on 10 July 2021 (having been launched in Scotland and N. Ireland on 19 June). Teaming up with WWF for 2021, this year’s theme is Wild World Heroes, which inspires children to explore ways of helping to save the planet. The annual Challenge reaches over 700,000 children across the UK each year; The Reading Agency is aiming to increase its impact even further this year by reaching 1 million children with its new digital platform providing accessible, fun reading activities for all children.

Bethan Hughes, on behalf of SCL Cymru (Society of Chief Librarians), said: “The Summer Reading Challenge is one of the highlights of the year in our libraries across Wales, and this year we are especially looking forward to welcoming children and their families. You can take part by visiting the library, collecting a pack, and through the exciting bilingual website. The Challenge gives children the opportunity to choose what they read, to discover new books and authors, and to develop their reading skills and confidence. The Challenge has a positive impact on the wellbeing and development of every child who takes part – and most importantly it’s great fun. We are grateful to The Reading Agency, Welsh Government and the Books Council of Wales for working in close partnership with us to offer the Challenge to the children of Wales.”

With ideas from WWF, the Challenge focuses on action for nature and tackling real-world environmental issues, from plastic pollution and deforestation to wildlife decline and nature loss. Through taking part in the Challenge, with free packs from public libraries or online, children will be able to join six fictional characters – ‘wild heroes’ – to help solve some of these threats, learning about the importance of the environment while helping to restore nature levels in the neighbourhood of ‘Wilderville’.

A ‘Welcome to Wilderville: Meet the Heroes’ digital campaign will run over the summer with a different weekly habitat theme, led by the Wild World Heroes, including Woodland, River, Farm, Town, Home/School and the Beach. The characters and landscape are illustrated by award-winning children’s author and illustrator Heath McKenzie.

Over the summer term, WWF will be offering opportunities and resources for UK public libraries and primary schools to engage with the nature theme in the Summer Reading Challenge and to explore some of the most important issues of our time through the power of reading. WWF will also be running school seminars and live lessons, with updates posted on their dedicated Summer Reading Challenge webpage.

On 15 July 2021 WWF Cymru have arranged workshops with storyteller Tamar Eluned Williams exploring how reading, writing and telling stories about nature can be inspiring and fun. She will also be introducing her latest book, The Library of Life/Llyfrgell Bywyd, published by Celf ar y Blaen/Head4Arts and Petra Publishing. There will be workshops in Welsh and English. Booking information can be found here Summer Reading Challenge | WWF.

The Welsh Government have provided additional support this year, via the Books Council of Wales, to develop the digital offer, and an exciting programme of new content from Wales has been commissioned that will be uploaded to the Summer Reading Challenge website during the summer.

Dawn Bowden, Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport and Chief Whip, Welsh Government, said: “The Summer Reading Challenge is an important and worthwhile initiative and I am delighted that the Welsh Government continues to provide financial support. It’s wonderful that libraries across Wales are all committed to delivering the physical offer this summer and it’s important that the digital element is also supported to ensure an equitable offer for children and families. We’re hoping that many children will join the Wild World Heroes this summer – to have fun with their reading and learn more about environmental issues.

Dara McAnulty, ambassador, said: “I am so excited to be championing The Reading Agency’s Summer Reading Challenge, to encourage children to enjoy the benefits of reading for pleasure over the summer holidays. I’m 17 years old now, but not so long ago, the Summer Reading Challenge was something myself and my siblings completed every summer. It’s such a joy to now be an ambassador and encourage other children to take part in this wonderful scheme. I’m delighted that The Reading Agency is teaming up with WWF for this year’s very special nature-themed ‘Wild World Heroes’, to help children explore ways of helping our magnificent Earth. The Challenge feels more vital than ever after such a challenging year for school children, so it is brilliant to see the fun and engaging reading activities that everyone can get involved with, in libraries and online – inspiring them to help make a difference to nature. I look forward to celebrating two of my favourite things this summer… reading and helping the planet!”

Steve Backshall, ambassador, said: “I am thrilled to be supporting the Summer Reading Challenge 2021. The Reading Agency has teamed up with WWF for ‘Wild World Heroes’, an exciting nature-themed reading challenge that will inspire children to take action for the environment. Wild World Heroes will spark conversations about the issues facing our planet, from plastic pollution to wildlife decline, and will show how we can all work together to look after our world. By taking part in the Challenge, children will unlock the benefits of reading for pleasure – it’s never been more important for young people to keep up their reading skills and confidence over the summer holidays. ‘Wild World Heroes’ is a brilliant way to get children reading and talking about big issues. Happy Summer of Reading!”

In Wales, the Books Council of Wales, a registered charity, supports the Summer Reading Challenge through direct sponsorship from the Welsh Government.

Helen Jones, Head of Children’s Books and Reading Promotion, Books Council of Wales, said: “There couldn’t be a more important time to encourage children and young people to engage with nature and think about how they can take a positive step towards helping the planet. We believe in reading as a powerful tool to inspire action and imagination, and the Books Council of Wales is proud to support the Summer Reading Challenge again this year, in particular with new digital content featuring authors and illustrators from Wales.”

Rhian Brewster, Head of Communications, WWF Cymru, said: “Young people are the greatest advocates for climate and nature; they inspire us daily at WWF Cymru. Working with schools on literary and poetry projects recently here in Wales has demonstrated the passion, creativity and enthusiasm of our future generations which is why we are delighted to be partners of the Summer Reading Challenge in this milestone year for environmental action. We hope children across Wales will be encouraged to read, explore and take positive action for our world – our one shared home.”


Visit www.summerreadingchallenge.org.uk for more information.

Find out more about the Wild World Heroes Book Collection here.

Follow the latest developments on social media:

@ReadingAgency / @WWF @WWFCymru

#SummerReadingChallenge / #WildWorldHeroes

Books Council of Wales

Facebook: @llyfrau.books Twitter: @Books_Wales @LlyfrauCymru   Instagram: @llyfrau.cymru

Winner of children’s picture book illustration competition announced

Winner of children’s picture book illustration competition announced

The Books Council of Wales is delighted to announce the winner of a special competition organised with Urdd Gobaith Cymru to find new talent in the field of children’s book illustration.

The prize is awarded to 24-year-old Lily Mŷrennyn from the Rhondda for her ‘exceptionally executed’ artworks and her ‘command of narrative illustration’.

The task for entrants aged 18 to 25 was to create original artwork illustrating a short children’s story by one of Wales’ leading writers, Manon Steffan Ros.

The subject of the narrative is a large, hungry, imaginary animal called the Soddgarŵ and the picture book is published this week by Atebol as part of the prize.

Y Soddgarŵ will be available in bookshops and libraries throughout Wales, as well as in e-book format on the Books Council’s ffolio.wales website.

Lily Mŷrennyn, who graduated in 2020 from an Illustration course at the Swansea College of Art, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, said: “It has been incredibly exciting to be selected to work on this project, especially during such uncertain times for new graduates. I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to start my creative career with a book in print.”The competition was judged by Derek Bainton, a professional graphic artist living and working in Cardiff, who said: “Here is an artist whose work shows an understanding, confidence and command of narrative illustration. The artworks are exceptionally executed, combining a number of well-tuned skills such as traditional and digital techniques. The colour palette has a personal and warm feel, which binds this submission together beautifully in a delightfully cohesive, professional and original way.”The Head of the Department of Children’s Books and Reading Promotion at the Books Council of Wales, Helen Jones, said: “Warmest congratulations to Lily Mŷrennyn and many thanks to everyone who has entered this special competition. Illustrations can make an immeasurable contribution to the art of storytelling and broaden the appeal of books, especially children’s books. It is vital that we continue to nurture and promote new talent and standards in this field in Wales.”

Siân Eirian, Director of the Urdd National Eisteddfod, said: “It has been a pleasure to work with the Books Council of Wales on this competition and to include it in our Syllabus, originally for the Urdd Eisteddfod 2020. The Urdd Eisteddfod’s main purpose is to give young people new opportunities within the arts, so we are delighted to announce Lily Mŷrennyn’s success, and celebrate the publication of Y Soddgarŵ at this year’s Eisteddfod T.”

Rachel Lloyd, Creative Editor and Head of Publishing at Atebol, said: “It has been a privilege to lead on this project. The book is a valuable addition to our publishing programme. As part of our aim to promote and nurture new writers and illustrators, this project has been a great opportunity to invest in young, new talent. Working with Lily has been an absolute pleasure.”The Books Council will be working with the Urdd to hold a second competition for young illustrators at the 2022 Urdd National Eisteddfod. Further details will be published in September 2021.

Historical YA novel exploring Welsh language and identity wins 2021 Tir na n-Og Award

Historical YA novel exploring Welsh language and identity wins 2021 Tir na n-Og Award

The Short Knife by Elen Caldecott (Andersen Press, 2020), a powerful and exciting YA novel set during the early Middle Ages, has triumphed in the English-language category of the prestigious Tir na n-Og Awards 2021 for children’s and young people’s literature.

The Short Knife was written as part of the author’s PhD in Creative Writing which explored the creative opportunities of bilingual writing, and this is the first time Elen has won a Tir na n-Og Award.

The winning book was announced on the Radio Wales Arts Show at 18:30 on Friday, 21 May, with the author receiving a cash prize of £1,000 as well as a specially commissioned poem by Bardd Plant Cymru (Welsh Children’s Laureate) Gruffudd Owen.

Now in their 46th year, the annual Tir na n-Og Awards celebrate the best books for children and young adults in Wales published during 2020. They are organised by the Books Council of Wales and sponsored by the librarians’ association CILIP Cymru Wales.

The Short Knife by Elen Caldecott 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.

Chair of judges, Jo Bowers, said: “Congratulations to The Short Knife by Elen Caldecott, an outstanding and original story with a strong female voice, a story with a twist that grips you right from the start. It is an eloquently written novel with lyrical language throughout, set in the early Middle Ages at an important time in Welsh history.”

Elen Caldecott said: “I am over the moon that The Short Knife has won this award. When you write about home, the reception the novel gets from the people who live there matters enormously. To have the book so championed and supported means 
the world. Thank you to everyone involved in the Tir na n-Og Awards!”

The other two books on the English-language shortlist were The Quilt by Valériane Leblond (Y Lolfa), about a family emigrating from Wales to the USA at the turn of the twentieth century, and Where the Wilderness Lives by Jess Butterworth (Orion), a contemporary story set in the Celtic rainforest of north Wales.

Helen Jones, Head of Children’s Books and Reading Promotion at the Books Council, said: “This category honours and celebrates the best English-language novel with an authentic Welsh background published in 2020. As a Books Council, it’s extremely important to us that our children and young people have a choice of high-quality, exciting reading material which reflects their lives in some way. Our warmest congratulations to Elen and to everyone who’s been involved in this year’s awards.”

Amy Staniforth from CILIP Cymru said: “We are delighted to sponsor the prestigious Tir na n-Og Awards once more this year, helping children and young people to discover great new reading experiences which show life through a Welsh lens. Many congratulations to the winners on their fantastic achievement and to all involved in the process of bringing these wonderful books to our shelves.”  

Chief Executive of the Books Council, Helgard Krause, said: “The Tir na n-Og Awards have been honouring the best books for children and young people in Wales for almost half a century now, offering a platform to celebrate and promote the talents of writers and illustrators. Our heartfelt thanks to everyone who has been involved in this year’s competition and to all those creating outstanding content to inspire, educate and entrance us as readers during an extremely challenging year.”

The winners of the Welsh-language categories were revealed on S4C’s Heno programme on Thursday, 20 May. Casia Wiliam won the primary school age category for her novel Sw Sara Mai (‘Sara Mai’s Zoo’, published by Y Lolfa), with#helynt (‘#trouble’) by Rebecca Roberts (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch) taking the top prize in the secondary school age category. It’s the first time both authors have won a Tir na n-Og Award.

All the Tir na n-Og Awards 2021 books are available through your local bookshop or library.

About the winning author

Elen Caldecott was born and raised near Llangollen in north Wales, where her family still lives. She has published many books for children in the last decade. Her most recent novel, The Short Knife, was written as part of her PhD in Creative Writing which explored the creative opportunities of bilingual writing. Before becoming a writer, Elen trained as an archaeologist and has a love of history, which was another important influence on her work. She currently teaches part-time at Lancaster University. @ElenCaldecott

About the awards

  • The Tir na n-Og Awards were established in 1976 to celebrate the best books for children and young adults, and to promote the sale and reading of quality books. They are organised by the Books Council of Wales.
  • Since 1976, some of Wales’ leading writers have won the award including Emily Huws, T Llew Jones, Caryl Lewis, Gareth F Williams, Manon Steffan Ros and Angharad Tomos (the latter two were on the 2021 Welsh-language shortlists).
  • Three prizes of £1,000 are presented to the winners of the three categories.
  • The awards are sponsored by CILIP Cymru, the Chartered Institute of Librarians and Information Officers Wales.
  • Judging panel for the English-language award: Jo Bowers (Chair of judges and Associate Dean for Partnerships in the School of Education at Cardiff Metropolitan University), Jannat Ahmed (Subscriptions and Marketing Officer for Poetry Wales), Pooja Antony (primary school teacher) and Alex Ball (Senior Library Assistant with Caerphilly County Borough Council).