On 25 and 26 June, scores of children from 34 schools across Wales took over the Arts Centre in Aberystwyth for two days of keen competition. It was the national round of Darllen Dros Gymru, the Welsh Books Council’s Welsh-language books competition for primary schools.
All pupils were competing for the prestigious title of Darllen Dros Gymru 2019 Champions. The national round is the culmination of reading activities across Wales, with the regional winners making it through to the final in Aberystwyth. The challenge involves discussing books and performing short dramatic presentations based on titles they have read, and this year’s eagle-eyed judges were Mair Heulyn Rees and Rhian Cadwaladr. As part of the day’s activities, the children and teachers had the opportunity to enjoy sessions in the company of actor and author Meilyr Siôn who inspired the avid readers with a presentation based on his latest novel, Hufen Afiach (Atebol). Rob Kenyon, a teacher at Ysgol Sant Baruc, Vale of Glamorgan, said “The pupils really enjoyed the whole experience of discussing and performing the books. It gives us the opportunity to develop literacy in a relevant and fun way. The chance to meet the author was the icing on the cake.” The competition for Years 3 and 4 took place on Tuesday, 25 June, and Ysgol Llannon, Carmarthenshire were crowned national champions as well as taking the trophy for the best presentation with their interpretation of Llanast by Mari Lovgreen (Gomer). Ysgol y Garnedd, Gwynedd, came second and also took home the award for best discussion group, with Ysgol y Wern, Cardiff, in third place. On Wednesday, 26 June, it was the turn of pupils from Years 5 and 6 to compete, with Ysgol Gymraeg Rhydaman, Carmarthenshire as overall champions as well as discussion award winners. Ysgol Pen Barras, Denbighshire, took second place as well as the trophy for best performace for their interpretation of Pren a Chansen by Myrddin ap Dafydd (Carreg Gwalch), with Ysgol Sant Baruc, Vale of Glamorgan in third position. Helen Jones, Head of the Children’s Books and Reading Promotion Department at the Welsh Books Council, said: “Darllen Dros Gymru is a great opportunity for children to reach for a book, read it and really enjoy its content. Children can use their imagination, dissect the book’s themes and discuss what’s happening in the story. Special thanks go to the dedicated organisers for their hard work in the county rounds, and to the teachers and supporters for ensuring the success of this event.” Thanks to the support of Gomer, Carreg Gwalch, Y Lolfa, and Rily Publications, every child who took part was invited to choose a free book to take home.