Saturday, 1 August 2009

My Summer of Tove by Catherine Johnson

Most writers love books, and I can't ever remember not being able to read. Luckily for me reading was as easy as breathing, and just as natural. It took absolutely no effort, unlike being able to catch or hit a ball, or doing long division.
The summers were always big reading times for me. Our holidays were always the same; six weeks in North Wales, and that meant a lot of rain. In my Nain and Taid's house there weren't a lot of books in English, actually, thinking about it now, I can't remember any. English wasn't a well loved language at my grandparent's. I discovered Moomintrolls one summer, and went through the whole series thanks to the village library.
I was in a library in Enfield last week, and they're in the middle of the school holidays and knee deep in The Summer Reading Challenge. This is run every year by local librarians with resources produced by The Reading Agency. In every library young readers up to 11 (but a lot of older kids do it too) read as many books as they can. They win prizes and there are all sorts of book based activities. Every year there's a different theme, this year's is, I think, particularly lovely - it's Quest Seekers. The art work is gorgeous and the characters and the dragon are very attractive. I would say that of course because the artist is Jonny Duddles who did my last book cover for Random House.
The thing about the Summer Reading Challenge is that it works. It works really well. Thousands and thousands of children, and many of these are children without huge reading staminas, read hundreds and thousands of books. If you want to check out the statistics you can on the Reading Agency's website. Children go back to school in September as readers, their confidence and their love of stories fuelled sky high.
Hooray for libraries!
P.S. Looking up some illustrations I found that The Summer Reading Challenge also operates in Welsh. Hwre!


Katherine Langrish said...

I too adore the Moomins!And the Reading Challenge is a brilliant idea.
Go libraries! Carry the banner of civilization!

catdownunder said...

There is something similar here in my home state in Australia - the Premier's Reading Challenge. Unfortunately it is conducted during the school year as an optional part of the school curriculum. Read enough books and you get a little 'medal' but it really does sound a bit like 'boring old school stuff' for many children. I really like the idea of it being a summer holiday project and I assume the theme does not limit the reader to only some types of books?