Announcing the Winner of the English-language Tir na n-Og Award 2024

Announcing the Winner of the English-language Tir na n-Og Award 2024

Where the River Takes Us by Lesley Parr (published by Bloomsbury Publishing) is the 2024 winner of the Tir na n-Og English-language Award for children and young people’s literature.

 Author Lesley Parr has won the Tir na n-Og English-language Award with Where the River Takes Us, a pacy 1970s adventure set in a Welsh valley, published by Bloomsbury.

The winning book was announced at a lunchtime ceremony on Friday 17 May, at the CILIP Cymru Wales conference in Cardiff, by singer, actor and presenter Miriam Isaac.

This is the second time Lesley has won the Tir na n-Og English-language Award, following the success of wartime novel The Valley of Lost Secrets in 2022. This year’s winning novel is set in 1974; a time of strikes, hardship and the three-day week, but it is also a story full of humour and friendship:

February 1974. Whispers echo through the valley – tales of a wild beast roaming the mountains. When a reward is offered for proof of its existence, Jason and his friends are determined to find the creature first. But for Jason it’s more than a quest – the money is a way for him and his brother to stay together. So the four friends set off, following the river north, not realising that this journey will push them to their limits. An extraordinary adventure awaits …

Lesley Parr said: “I’m over the moon that Where the River Takes Us has won the Tir na n-Og Award in the English Language category. I love to write about my kind of Wales; ordinary people doing extraordinary things against a backdrop of working-class Welshness. To receive an accolade at this level – and from my own country – is a very special thing.”

Established in 1976, the annual Tir na n-Og Awards celebrate the best books for children and young people in Wales. They are organised by the Books Council of Wales and sponsored by CILIP Cymru Wales.

The Chair of the judging panel, Simon Fisher, said: “Congratulations to Lesley on winning this year’s Award. Where the River Takes Us is a beautiful and genuine portrayal of friendship and family strife. Action-packed and brilliantly written, this pacy tale of 70s hardships and the hunt for a wild cat is totally gripping and lots of fun.”

Jamie Finch, Chair of CILIP Cymru Wales, said: “On behalf of CILIP Cymru Wales, we are delighted once again to support the annual Tir na n-Og Awards, which showcase some of the most inspiring and entertaining books penned for children and young adults in Wales.

We are grateful to the Books Council of Wales for organising these awards, and, of course, to the judging panels who have the unenviable task of picking the winners.”

The other shortlisted titles for the English-language category were:

  • Vivi Conway and the Sword of Legend by Lizzie Huxley-Jones (Knights of Media)
  • The Ghosts of Craig Glas Castle by Michelle Briscombe (Candy Jar Books)

Where the River Takes Us has also been announced today as the winner of the English-language Readers’ Choice Award. This is a special award chosen by children and young people who took part in the Tir na n-Og Shadowing Scheme and nominated their own winner from the shortlisted titles.

Helgard Krause, Chief Executive of the Books Council of Wales, said: “Warmest congratulations to Lesley on her achievement winning the English-language Tir na n-Og Award for the second time, and for also winning the Readers’ Choice Award this year. Thank you to everybody involved in this year’s awards, with special thanks to the librarians, teachers and booksellers who play such a vital role helping young readers discover these wonderful books.”

The winners of the two Welsh-language category Tir na n-Og Awards 2024 will be revealed at the Urdd Eisteddfod in Meifod at 1pm on Wednesday 29 May 2024.

Further details about the awards and the titles can be seen on the Books Council’s website.

 

Announcing funding of £500,000 for the New Audiences Grant 3

Announcing funding of £500,000 for the New Audiences Grant 3

The Books Council of Wales is inviting applications for a third round of the New Audiences Grant, thanks to £500,000 of funding from Welsh Government through Creative Wales.

The purpose of the grant is to support and develop the publishing industry in Wales. Grants are available for publishers, charities or organisations based in Wales to:

Create promotional and marketing plans that will reach new audiences 

  • Grants available for up to £20,000 per applicant for book promotion and marketing programmes that reach new readers in Welsh and English.

Provide opportunities to new voices in the periodical press

  • Grants available for up to £15,000 per applicant to develop new and diverse voices within news services and popular magazines.

Publish new content that reflects Wales in all its diversity

  • Grants available for up to £30,000 per applicant to develop diverse cultural content from Wales, which leads to publication in books, magazines or online in Wales.

 Helgard Krause, Chief Executive of the Books Council of Wales said: “We are delighted to be able to offer the New Audiences Grant for a third year, and we are grateful to Creative Wales for continuing to support our work to create opportunities within the publishing industry and support content that reflects all of Wales.”

Grant criteria and guidelines and the link to the application form can be found on the Books Council website, Grants | Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru The deadline for applications is 12 noon, Tuesday 2 April 2024.

Announcing funding of £500,000 for the New Audiences Grant 3

English-language Shortlist for 2024 Tir na n-Og Awards revealed

 

The Books Council of Wales and influencer, presenter and book lover Ellis Lloyd Jones revealed the English-language shortlist for this year’s Tir na n-Og Awards on Friday 15 March at 12pm, on their Instagram and TikTok channels. The awards celebrate the very best of stories from Wales and about Wales that were published in 2023.

The Tir na n-Og Awards are the oldest awards for children’s literature in Wales and are held every year by the Books Council of Wales, supported by CILIP Cymru Wales. They celebrate the talents of authors and illustrators who either create original works in Welsh, or who write about authentically Welsh themes or backgrounds through the medium of English.

Ellis will reveal the books on the shortlist from a special bookshop location. This year the stories celebrate all things beastly, ghostly and mysterious, and will take young readers on three awesome adventures rooted in Welsh history and myth.

 The shortlist for the best English-language book with an authentic Welsh dimension is:

The Ghosts of Craig Glas Castle by Michelle Briscombe (Candy Jar Books)
Follow Flora and Archie as they delve into the spooky secrets of the past in Craig Glas Castle. While Dad values the antiques, will the castle’s ghosts provide enough clues for Flora and Archie to discover the secrets of the mysterious garden and right the wrongs of the past? A fast paced and exciting story filled with phantoms, friendship, and family.

Vivi Conway and the Sword of Legend by Lizzie Huxley-Jones (Knights of)
The lake has been calling to twelve-year-old Vivi Conway. On the day she and her Mams will move from Wales to London, she sneaks out to investigate what is calling her there. Instead of a quiet swim, she finds Excalibur (much smaller than she expected), a ferocious monster (much scarier in real life than in her mythology books), a new friend (which she doesn’t want at all) called Dara, and a ghostly dog named Gelert (who can talk). A fantastic, inclusive story full of Welsh myths and legends which sweeps you away on a gripping adventure.

Where the River Takes Us by Lesley Parr (Bloomsbury Publishing Ltd)
February 1974. Whispers echo through the valley – tales of a wild beast roaming the mountains. When a reward is offered for proof of its existence, Jason and his friends are determined to find the creature first. But for Jason it’s more than a quest – the money is a way for him and his brother to stay together. So the four friends set off, following the river north, not realising that this journey will push them to their limits. An extraordinary adventure awaits …

 Highly recommended
The panel also wanted to give special recognition to the four titles submitted from the Welsh Wonders series (Broga); a series of books celebrating the lives and achievements of notable Welsh people, and their lasting influence in Wales and beyond:

Ann (by Menna Machreth, illustrated by Emily Kimbell), Laura (by Mari Lovgreen, illustrated by Sara Rhys), Betty (by Nia Morais, illustrated by Anastasia Magloire), and Wallace (by Aneirin Karadog, illustrated by Alyn Smith).

Independent panels of judges select the shortlists and decide on the winners for the Welsh and English awards each year. This year, the judges on the English-language panel were Simon Fisher (Chair), Elizabeth Kennedy, Karen Gemma Brewer and Katie Rees.

Simon Fisher, Chair of the English-language judging panel says: “The judges are extremely happy with this year’s shortlist. The Tir na n-Og Award is all about authentic Welsh subject matter which these three stories have in abundance. The judges believe that the shortlist is relevant and relatable to children across Wales and that the assured writing delivers a captivating and enjoyable experience. The three titles each have a unique and lasting identity that allows readers to explore and understand emotive topics whilst also adding to a shared cultural identity.”

Helgard Krause, Chief Executive of the Books Council of Wales said: “Congratulations to the authors and illustrators on this year’s shortlists. The entries were excellent once again this year and I’d like to thank the judging panels for all their work to select the shortlists from amongst so many wonderful titles. I’m looking forward to finding out which books win the awards in the summer and wish all the finalists the very best of luck.”

Ellis Lloyd Jones says: “I’ve always enjoyed reading and nothing beats a good book that makes you smile, that takes you on adventures and transports you to different worlds. And the best thing about the Tir na n-Og Awards is that they celebrate all books from Wales! This year’s shortlist does not disappoint – every book is full of mystery, adventure and magic.”

You can see the announcement at:

Instagram: xellislloydjonesx and books.wales

TikTok: @ellislloydjones

The shortlisted titles for the Welsh-language Tir na n-Og Awards 2024 were announced on the Heno programme on S4C on Wednesday 13 March.

This year, young readers can once again choose the winners in a special category: the Readers’ Choice Award. This award is chosen by children and young people who take part in the Tir na n-Og shadowing scheme. Schools, libraries and other children’s reading groups can register to take part and be unofficial judges to choose winners from the shortlisted books, with the guidance of the shadowing pack. You can find out how to register on the Books Council’s website, books.wales 

The winner of the English-language category will be announced on Friday 17 May at the CILIP Cymru Wales conference in Cardiff. The winners of the Welsh-language categories will be announced at 1pm on Wednesday 29 May at the Urdd Eisteddfod in Meifod.

Bookshops and libraries will be holding Tir na n-Og Treasure Hunts over the Easter holidays with the chance for children aged 4–11 to take part. Ask your local bookshop or library for details.

Further information about the awards and the shortlisted titles can be found on the Books Council’s website.

Announcing funding of £500,000 for the New Audiences Grant 3

Announcing the 2024 Tir na n-Og Awards Welsh-language Shortlist

The Books Council of Wales revealed the Welsh-language shortlist for this year’s Tir na n-Og Awards on S4C’s programme, Heno on Wednesday 13 March. The awards celebrate the very best of stories from Wales and about Wales that were published in 2023

The Tir na n-Og Awards are the oldest awards for children’s literature in Wales and are held every year by the Books Council of Wales, supported by CILIP Cymru Wales. They celebrate the talents of authors and illustrators who either create original works in Welsh, or who write about authentically Welsh themes or backgrounds through the medium of English.

The Welsh-language prize has two categories: Primary (age 4–11) and Secondary (age 11–18).

Though this year’s Welsh-language shortlist includes a wide range of themes, characters and styles, they are all books for readers to relate to. We can follow characters as they discover friendship, have new experiences and live through difficult times – and learn how to get to know and accept each other, and ourselves.

PRIMARY AGE SHORTLIST:

Jac a’r Angel by Daf James, illustrated by Bethan Mai (Y Lolfa)
A humorous, charming and sensitive novel. Jac a’r Angel is a lively Christmas story. Children and adults alike can enjoy the ‘coming of age’ story of an innocent boy who uses his imagination to overcome grief and the dark forces of life.

Mari a Mrs Cloch by Caryl Lewis, illustrated by Valériane Leblond (Y Lolfa)
On Christmas Eve, Mari takes mince pies to Mrs Cloch – a lonely old lady who has no visitors. Mari helps her to decorate the Christmas tree with unusual decorations from all over the world, and a very unexpected visitor arrives…

Wyneb yn Wyneb by Sioned Wyn Roberts (Atebol)
Twm is a thief, a cheat and a bully. But something is missing in his life and he doesn’t know why. One dark night, when Twm is out thieving, he comes face to face with his fate … and discovers a shocking truth that changes his life for ever.

Y Gragen by Casia Wiliam, illustrated by Naomi Bennet (Barddas Publications)
A charming rhyming story about a city child visiting the beach in a seaside village for the first time. The child returns home with a seashell as a souvenir of the place where children laugh while eating ice cream, seaweed squeals and nature sings.

SECONDARY CATEGORY SHORTLIST:

Astronot yn yr Atig by Megan Angharad Hunter (Y Lolfa)
Rosie is mad about the tv series Yr Estronos and about astronauts, and when a spaceship lands in her back garden, she cannot believe her luck. This is a novel about friendship, about time-travelling, about growing up in a complex and difficult world, and about pushing the boundaries of the imagination to the extreme.

Fi ydy Fi by Sian Eirian Lewis, illustrated by Celyn Hunt (Y Lolfa)
A factual book for girls relating to issues about growing up. Each chapter deals with a specific growing up issue such as: Why does my body mature?, Hormones, Breasts, Hair, Sweating, Skin, Periods, Understanding my emotions, My Body, Friends.

Sêr y Nos yn Gwenu by Casia Wiliam (Y Lolfa)
This is the raw love story of Leia and Sam, which is also a story about community, learning, venturing and forgiveness. The story begins at the community centre, where Leia and Sam meet again after being kept apart for some time.

Independent panels of judges select the shortlists and decide on the winners for the Welsh and English awards each year. This year’s judges on the Welsh-language panel were Sioned Dafydd (Chair), Sara Yassine, Siôn Lloyd Edwards and Rhys Dilwyn Jenkins.

Sioned Dafydd, Chair of the Welsh-language judging panel said: “The panel really enjoyed reading the submissions and agreed that children in Wales are very fortunate to have such a range of quality books to enjoy and to treasure. We’d like to thank all of the publishers, authors and illustrators for hours of enjoyment and escape!

We are sure that books among this year’s collection are set to become firm favourites with children and will be read and re-read for years to come.”

Helgard Krause, Chief Executive of the Books Council of Wales said: “Congratulations to the authors and illustrators on this year’s shortlists. The entries were excellent once again this year and I’d like to thank the judging panels for all their work to select the shortlists from amongst so many wonderful titles. I’m looking forward to finding out which books win the awards in the summer and wish all the finalists the very best of luck.”

The English-language shortlist will be revealed at 12pm Friday 15 March by Ellis Lloyd Jones and the Books Council of Wales on their social media channels.

This year young readers can once again choose the winners in a special category: the Readers’ Choice Award. This award is chosen by children and young people who take part in the Tir na n-Og shadowing scheme. Schools, libraries and other children’s reading groups can register to take part and be unofficial judges to choose winners from the shortlisted books, with the guidance of the shadowing pack. You can find out how to register on the Books Council’s website, books.wales 

The winners of the Welsh-language categories will be announced at 1pm on Wednesday 29 May at the Urdd Eisteddfod in Meifod and the English-language category winner will be announced on Friday 17 May at CILIP Cymru Wales conference in Cardiff.

Bookshops and libraries will be holding Tir na n-Og Treasure Hunts over the Easter holidays with the chance for children aged 4–11 to take part. Ask your local bookshop or library for details.

Further information about the awards and the shortlisted titles can be found on the Books Council’s website, books.wales 

 

Announcing funding of £500,000 for the New Audiences Grant 3

Projects awarded funding for New Audiences Grant 2

​The Books Council of Wales has published details of the projects that have been funded by the second year of the New Audiences Grant, with projects from across Wales receiving a share of £400,000 of funding in 2023/24.

The New Audiences Grant is funded by Welsh Government through Creative Wales. Its purpose is to strengthen and diversify the publishing industry in Wales. Grants of up to £40,000 were available for organisations and new ventures in Wales to:

  • develop new authors, illustrators or contributors from culturally diverse backgrounds or under-represented groups from Wales, and provide them with the support and opportunities they may need to be published in Wales;
  • target new audiences in Wales by developing original material and/or using media channels or formats currently not funded;
  • set up a publishing business or publication that will strengthen and diversify the current offer in Wales.

Among the new initiatives to receive funding were:

Afterlight Comics
Afterlight Comics are collaborating with local Welsh creatives to transform tales from Welsh folklore into a graphic novel. By teaming up with artists and writers from Wales, the goal is to breathe new life into these traditional stories, adapting them into a visually captivating format. This initiative aims to spotlight Welsh culture and heritage, making age-old folklore accessible and intriguing for modern readers. 

Wales Young Farmers Clubs
Up to 15 members of Wales Young Farmers Clubs are working with mentors to develop their writing skills, leading to publication. With the help and support of two experienced mentors, a variety of written forms, depending on the individual, will be created and developed by young people between the ages of 10 and 28. Whether through humorous reports, poems or short stories, the voices of young, rural Welsh people will be heard in a published volume.

Gypsy Writers Project: Expanding Cultural Understanding, Romani Cultural and Arts Company
The Romani Cultural and Arts Company’s trailblazing new creative writing project ‘Gypsy Writers’ invited applications from emerging Gypsy, Roma and Traveller writers currently living in Wales. Extending the highly successful Gypsy Maker programme, four emerging writers will be commissioned, who have not been previously published (online or in print). Funds will be used to commission a leading Gypsy, Roma and Traveller writer to steer the development of new writing by offering tailored one-to-one mentoring, prose and poetry workshops, and industry-specific training.

Helgard Krause, Chief Executive of the Books Council of Wales said: “Thanks to Creative Wales, once again we have been able to fund some really exciting projects through the New Audiences Grant. We’re pleased to be able to build on some of the successes from the first year of the grant and see projects grow for a second year. I’m also delighted that we could work with some brand-new partners this time round, who will bring new talent and ideas to publishing in Wales, appeal to new audiences and create lasting change in our sector.”

The Deputy Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, Dawn Bowden said: “I’m delighted that we’re able to continue supporting this scheme.  This funding brings the total investment through the grant to over £1million and nearly 70 different projects across Wales.

“The first year of the New Audiences Grant has created exciting opportunities for new collaborations and partnerships.  I wish the new projects all the best and we look forward to seeing their achievements.”

Details of the projects that received funding are on the Books Council’s website: Grants | Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru

Celebrating World Book Day in Wales 2024

Celebrating World Book Day in Wales 2024

Celebrating World Book Day in Wales 2024

The charity World Book Day® is holding its annual celebration on Thursday 7 March. Children throughout the country will be encouraged to enjoy reading, receiving £1 book tokens to exchange for one of the many specially published £1 books for FREE, or to put towards another book of their choice.

This year’s Welsh-language book, supported by the Books Council of Wales and published by Rily Publications, is Ffeithiau Ffiaidd: Y Corff.  Written and illustrated by Kev Payne, this fantastically gruesome activity book is packed with facts, puzzles and games, taking readers on a stomach-churning journey exploring the gross and ghastly human body.

The book has been adapted into Welsh by award-winning author and poet Mari George and is proving so popular with readers that it has already been reprinted. You can pick up your copy from your local bookshop.

Mari said: “I’m so pleased that my adaptation Ffeithiau Ffiaidd: Y Corff has been chosen as the Welsh-language book for Wales Book Day 2024. Hopefully it will inspire children to go to read other books which is something I am passionate about.”

Helgard Krause, Chief Executive of the Books Council of Wales said: We’re delighted to be working in partnership with World Book Day, to make books available to children and to inspire a love of reading. Mari George’s wonderful adaptation of Ffeithiau Ffiaidd: Y Corff is sure to delight and revolt young readers in equal measure! Thank you too, to Rily Publications for their hard work in ensuring another high-quality title is available for young readers to enjoy in Welsh as part of the £1 book scheme.”

There are three other Welsh-language books available for £1 this year: Lledrith yn y Llyfrgell (Y Lolfa) by Anni Llŷn, Ha Ha Cnec! (Broga) by author, illustrator and cartoonist Huw Aaron, and Gwisg Ffansi Cyw (Y Lolfa) by Anni Llŷn. All of these books, and Ffeithiau Ffiaidd: Y Corff are available from local bookshops.

As schools distribute the £1 tokens and prepare their World Book Day activities, the Books Council of Wales has a whole range of resources and inspiration to help schools and readers to celebrate books and reading – not just on World Book Day, but all through the year. The 80 different activities include games, competitions, writing, crafts and performances; to bring books to life and inspire young readers. You can find all of these resources on the Books Council website, books.wales.

At the core of the World Book Day’s work to change lives through reading is the opportunity for all children to have a book of their own. As reading for pleasure continues to be the single biggest indicator of a childs future success – more than family circumstances, parents’ educational background and their income[1], World Book Day aims to reach communities, families, and children in areas of high deprivation and low literacy. To further boost its reach and impact the charitys newly published strategy for 2023–2027[2] sets out how it will encourage more children, from all backgrounds, to develop a life-long habit of reading for pleasure, and benefit from the improved life chances this brings them. 

Cassie Chadderton, CEO, World Book Day said: “Our aim for World Book Day 2024 is to bring the fun of reading to more children, to celebrate their choices and encourage everyone to Read Their Way!  Fewer children and their families are enjoying reading, just when the life-changing benefits are needed most.

We are delighted that children can choose Ffeithiau Ffiaidd: Y Corff, or decide on another read from this year’s exciting list of £1/€1.50 books 2024. We are confident that these fun and inspirational books will spark children’s interest in discovering more books to read for pleasure!”

You can find out more about World Book Day £1 books on the World Book Day website worldbookday.com and about how the Books Council supports World Book Day in Wales at World Book Day | Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru.

 

[1]  https://www.oecd.org/pisa/pisaproducts/pisainfocus/48624701.pdf

[2] World-Book-Day-Impact-Report-2023.pdf (worldbookday.com)

Announcing funding of £500,000 for the New Audiences Grant 3

New tender opportunity for brand new magazine in Wales

The Books Council of Wales is inviting applications for a 4-year contract (2024–28) for a brand-new English-language literary magazine as it opens the tender process today, 4 March 2024.

£80,000 per annum is available to develop and establish one new title. The remit of the magazine is for an English-language literary magazine with a strong focus on fiction and creative non-fiction, featuring robust reviews and commentary, and which has a sustainable and adaptable business model at its core. 

The magazine will be funded by Welsh Government through Creative Wales, from the Cultural Periodicals Grant, and will join 4 other English-language titles in receiving a grant over the funding period. 

Helgard Krause, Chief Executive of the Books Council said: “This is an exciting opportunity for applicants to put forward their ideas for a brand-new title, with a view to launching the first issue at the end of the year. We are looking for a magazine with a robust and ambitious business model that will make a significant contribution to the culture of Wales, which will seek to attract the widest possible readership, and also support skills development as part of the wider publishing ecosystem”.

Guidelines and application documents are on the Books Council of Wales website – books.wales. Tenders | Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru. The closing date for stage 1 applications is 15 April 2024, with shortlisted applications going to a second stage in the summer.

Schools Love Reading project gives a boost to young readers

Schools Love Reading project gives a boost to young readers

Schools Love Reading project gives a boost to young readers

In November 2021, the Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles announced a multi-million-pound investment in reading engagement… and we were about to embark on the most ambitious book-gifting project we have ever managed! The Schools Love Reading programme would provide every child in a state school in Wales with a book of their own to keep, as well as provide additional books for every school’s library. Two years, 438,245 books, 168,870 book tokens and 1,490 schools later, and the project was completed in December 2023.

Schools, food banks, publishers, bookshops and the Books Council of Wales have worked together to deliver the programme, and we would like to say a heartfelt thank you to everyone for their support and participation in the scheme to ensure every child was able to select and choose their own free book. We’re also delighted to share some of the findings from the evaluation report, which has shown what an important difference this scheme has made to children and young people across Wales.

The purpose of the scheme was to promote reading for pleasure among children and young people, and to ensure that readers had equal access to a diverse range of appealing and quality titles. Reading for pleasure is known to increase well-being and empathy, develop imagination, support educational attainment, and provide opportunities to explore new ideas and experiences.

The Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles said: “Reading opens the door to new skills, boosts imagination and plays an important role in a child’s development. The Schools Love Reading campaign celebrates the power of reading, and supports learners, schools, parents and carers to encourage and enjoy it. We want to make sure that every child has the opportunity to reap the rewards from reading and it’s fantastic to see this campaign helping ignite a passion with high quality material.”

The programme was delivered in four stages:

  • Individual book gift to every child in state primary schools in Wales, which was delivered via a curated selection of books sent to schools, for learners to choose from.
  • £7 book token for every learner aged 11–16 in state secondary schools in Wales. Book tokens were delivered to schools, who arranged distribution to students. Some schools worked in partnership with local bookshops to arrange bookfairs or bookshop visits to help students make their purchases.
  • Every state school received a pack of 50 books celebrating diversity, to add to their school or class library.
  • 66,775 books have been distributed to foodbanks and community groups so that service users could choose books during their visits. Deliveries took place in November 2022 and again in November 2023, in time for Christmas.

Primary School book gifting – findings
There were 231 individual responses to the survey from 226 primary schools, in addition to discussion groups. In all, feedback was included from school staff, learners and parents/carers.

  • 100% of schools agreed that the books were of a high standard and quality, and most importantly, 95% said that the children liked the choice of books.

 We had a ‘book browse’ afternoon. Books were arranged with bean-bags around each display for children to move round and select a book having handled it, read the blurb, read the start etc.” – Primary school representative, survey

Many schools took the opportunity to create a special event out of the book gifting, to help the children browse the selection on offer and choose their own book to keep. One school offered a book browse afternoon, another a book picnic and some schools combined it with other activities such as St Davids Day or World Book Day.

Some of our children said this would be the first book they ever owned that they could keep and would not have to give back. It was lovely to see children carrying their books to the yard to read at break time and how proud they were to take them home and say they were ‘books to keep forever’.” – Primary school representative, survey

  • Over 95% of schools agreed that the programme had increased opportunities for learners to read for pleasure, and nearly 80% said that the books have encouraged reading at home.

Parents were very grateful for the books. Many of our children don’t have access to books at home so they were overjoyed to have a book to take home.” – Primary school representative, survey

Secondary School book tokens – findings
There were 68 individual responses to the survey from 61 secondary schools, in addition to discussion groups. In all, feedback was collected from staff, learners and parents/carers.

Older learners at secondary school level were gifted a £7 book token to enable them to choose any book either by visiting a bookshop or through shop visits to schools. We also hoped that this approach would build relationships between bookshops and schools, as well as introducing learners to their local bookshop.

  • Over 90% of respondents from secondary schools reported that learners appreciated receiving their book tokens and 88% agreed that the book tokens provided had encouraged reading at home.

I think it’s a fantastic boost to the pupils. I really enjoyed the pupils’ reaction and pleasure that choosing and ‘buying’ their own book brought. Some pupils had to be persuaded that yes it was real and yes it was actually a book all for themself.” – Secondary school representative, survey

We were especially pleased to see that all secondary school learners who participated in the evaluation felt that the programme had increased their desire to read for pleasure, and that they now read much more, having taken part in the scheme. Welsh-language books were also shown to be in demand, and learners stated that they were more likely to read Welsh books since taking part in the programme, reporting a greater interest in reading as a result of the initiative.

There were some Welsh books that needed to be fought for because loads of people wanted to read them!” Secondary school learner, discussion group

  • 95% strongly agreed or agreed that the programme increased opportunities for reading for pleasure, and 95% agreed that the programme improved access to books.

Collaboration with food banks
Three food banks took part in the survey to provide feedback, all of which found different ways to share the books with their service users, such as displays for browsing, or sharing books with local schools. Each of the food banks who responded detailed the positive outcomes of being able to provide families with a free book for their child/children.

It was lovely to see children walking away with the books like it was treasure.” – Foodbank staff/volunteer, discussion

The books were described as ‘beautiful’, ‘high quality’ and catered to all ages. The availability of bilingual books was also referenced by participants as beneficial for families.

If you’d like to know more about the Schools Love Reading programme, there’s information about the scheme here, as well as our series of ‘I Love Reading!’ blogs by Welsh celebrities including Jess Fishlock, Mel Owen, James Hook and others.

Season’s Greetings 2023

Season’s Greetings 2023

SEASON’S GREETINGS 2023

The Books Council and the Distribution Centre will be closed from Thursday afternoon,
 21 December 2023 and will re-open after the holidays on Tuesday, 2 January 2024.

We wish you all a happy and peaceful Christmas.

Announcing funding of £500,000 for the New Audiences Grant 3

Announcing recipients of 2024–28 English-language Cultural Periodicals Grant

The Books Council of Wales has today (7 December) announced the successful recipients of the English-language Cultural Periodicals Grant for 2024–28.

The grant, which is funded by Welsh Government through Creative Wales, is awarded as new, standalone funding every four years following an open competitive tender process. The tender was advertised in May, with interviews taking place in November 2023. Grants are awarded by an independent panel following a rigorous application and interview process.

The Books Council is pleased to be funding the following titles for the next franchise period:

Nation.Cymru – £25,000 per year for cultural content including book reviews and providing a digital free at the point of use platform for the publishing sector in Wales.

The Paper (@thepaperwales) – £10,000 per year plus a £10,000 start up grant during 2023/24. For providing a new platform for younger underrepresented writers, with a particular focus on working class writers.

Poetry Wales – £25,000 per year for providing a print and digital poetry magazine.

Welsh Agenda – £25,000 per year for cultural content including book reviews and providing a print and online platform for the publishing sector in Wales.

Helgard Krause, Chief Executive of the Books Council of Wales said: “We are pleased to be able to fund a number of excellent publications in this franchise round, including a new title, The Paper.  There was, as expected, a very high level of interest in the grant, with the total applications amounting to more than double the £180,000 available. I would like to congratulate all the recipients on their success in what was a very competitive and rigorous process, with difficult decisions for the panel awarding the grant.

Following the conclusion of the interviews and communication of the panel’s decisions to all applicants in November, we anticipate that the Sub-committee will be looking to advertise a tender for the development of one brand new English-language literary magazine with a strong focus on fiction and creative non-fiction with a sustainable business model at its core.

The precise vision for this new venture will be confirmed at the next English-language Publishing Development Sub-committee in February. A tender for a new franchise will be announced soon thereafter.”