An educational initiative designed to encourage children to read over the long summer holidays has been enthusiastically received in Monmouthshire.  The Summer Reading Challenge is delivered by library services throughout the UK and to participate, children should read six books and attend the council’s community hubs or libraries on three occasions.  This year’s theme is animal agents.

The Summer Reading Challenge is totally free and to get started children sign up for a folder to contain the special stickers received as each book is completed.  Once they have collected all the stickers they can solve the mystery posed by the challenge.

Among the county’s activities arranged in association with the Summer Reading Challenge is Chepstow Community Hub’s Thursday stories & crafts session, when up to twenty children attend with parents.  Jenny Hunt of Chepstow brought her children James (5), Nadia (8) and Ted (9) along to Chepstow last Thursday (3rd August).  All three are about to start the Summer Reading Challenge and are keen on reading.  Ted likes the books of C S Lewis and Nadia is a fan of Betty Birney’s Humphrey, the classroom hamster.

Also attending was Carys Pearce with mum Jessica from Tintern.  The two enjoy the reading and singing sessions at the community hub as well as the pre-school provision.  Carys (4) said she likes to read about princesses.

The reading session, led by community hub staff Sallyanne Powell and Sarah Delahunty, featured Lynley Dodd’s Hairy Maclary, Jonathan Long’s The Dog who could Dig, Dr Xargle’s Book of Earthhounds (Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross) and Daniel Postgate’s Smelly Bill.  Later the children crafted dog masks in line with the Summer Reading Challenge animal agent theme.

County Councillor Bob Greenland, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for community hubs said: “Reading can take a back seat during the long summer holidays if children don’t have regular access to books and encouragement to read for pleasure.  This can cause problems for schools in the new term but the annual Summer Reading Challenge is a highlight of the holiday for many children and can only be beneficial if it inspires them to get stuck into a good book.  The Summer Reading Challenge continues until 16th September so there’s still plenty of time to take part.”

The Summer Reading Challenge is produced by the Reading Agency and features in the council’s community hubs and libraries in Abergavenny, Caldicot, Chepstow, Gilwern, Monmouth and Usk.  More information is available from these premises or by contacting: – telephone 01633 644906.