Big friendly start to the Big Friendly Read!

“The event was a chance to show what libraries do so well, everyday – a place full of people having a great time, celebrating reading.” (Jemma Francis, my colleague)

PrintPublic libraries across Wales, along with their counterparts in the rest of the UK, have combined two great book things in one, to make a major summer splash. How? They have themed the ever popular Summer Reading Challenge (SRC) with celebrating 100 years of one of the UK’s favourite storytellers (Roald Dahl) in the Big Friendly Read 2016. Roald Dahl was born in Wales 100 years ago, and so the 2016 Summer Reading Challenge theme is his books and characters. Even better, the graphics for the SRC have been produced by Quentin Blake, who illustrated many of Dahl’s children’s books.

In Wales the official start took place at Glynneath Library (in Neath Port Talbot), on Thursday 28th July, with a packed library of kids, adults, a friendly police officer, storyteller and author Mike Church, and an engaging reading and talk from the Wales Cabinet Secretary for Education, Kirsty Williams. She said:

“The Summer Reading Challenge has proved hugely successful in motivating children to read more over the summer holidays. Research has shown that this helps keep their reading level up before going back to school in September.

“As Roald Dahl so perfectly said, ‘if you are going to get anywhere in life, you have to read a lot of books’ and I would encourage parents to make the most of the time with their children this summer, dive into a book and who knows where you’ll end up.”

Aled Evans and Kirsty Williams

Kirsty Williams (R) with Aled Evans, Director of Education at NPT (C) Welsh Government

Ken Skates, Cabinet Secretary with responsibility for libraries in Wales, said:

“We know libraries can have a real positive impact on children’s lives, introducing them to countless new interests and helping them develop a love of reading. I’m pleased we have been able to continue our support for the Summer Reading Challenge this year, and hope it will help children across Wales get involved in adventures throughout the summer.”

My colleague Jemma Francis attended the event and said the event was vibrant and action packed.

She said, “I remember taking part in many Summer Reading Challenge events during my time working in public libraries, so I was really pleased to be able to attend the celebration event at Glynneath library. The library staff had made a fantastic effort to add lots of Roald Dahl touches to the library to tie in with the theme, including dream jars (made by the children) and Big Friendly Read bunting (I loved this!).

“At 9.30am there was a real buzz at the library as lots of children and parents came along to see the entertainment from Mike Church – who made the adults laugh just as much as the children with his Willy Wonka antics. We also had a reading from the Cabinet Secretary for Education Kirsty Williams, who read an excerpt from George’s Marvellous Medicine in keeping with the Dahl theme. The event was a chance to show what libraries do so well, everyday – a place full of people having a great time, celebrating reading.”

Thanks to everyone who organised this event which sounded brilliant!

Mike Church entertaining the children (and adults!) (C) Welsh Government

Mike Church entertaining the children (and adults!) (C) Welsh Government

The Reading Agency and public libraries across the UK deliver the annual Summer Reading Challenge, when children aged 4-11 are encouraged to read six or more library books (or comics etc) of their choice during the summer holidays, with collectable incentives and rewards, plus a certificate, or medal for every child who completes the challenge.

Taking part in the Summer Reading Challenge is free and is one example of what public libraries offer to help children develop a love of reading, gain confidence and get new skills.

Kirsty Williams (centre), Cabinet Secretary for Education with two Glynneath library staff. (C) Welsh Government

Kirsty Williams (centre), Cabinet Secretary for Education with two Glynneath library staff. (C) Welsh Government

Public libraries across Wales are holding lots of events and activities during the summer holidays to keep children occupied and parents stress free! Some of the fantastic events that have been organised for the SRC in Welsh libraries include a chocolate workshop, author visits, art and craft sessions and an interactive drama and play group.

Information about local libraries in Wales can be found on

The Welsh Government press release for SRC event is on their website.

About alysontyler

Civil servant, yoga teacher and former librarian.
This entry was posted in Libraries, Literacy, Public libraries, Reading, Wales, Welsh Government and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Big friendly start to the Big Friendly Read!

  1. Hywel says:

    Matilda would visit the library only once a week in order to take out new books and return the old ones. Her own small bedroom now became her reading-room and there she would sit and read most afternoons, often with a mug of hot chocolate beside her……. The books transported her into new worlds and introduced her to amazing people who lived exciting lives. She went to Africa with Ernest Hemingway and to India with Rudyard Kipling. She traveled all over the world while sitting in her little room …..”
    ― Roald Dahl, Matilda

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