This year’s environmentally themed Summer Reading Challenge is a big success

30 September 2021

More than 2,000 children aged up to 12 took part in this year’s Summer Reading Challenge in Cheshire West Libraries.

The Challenge had the theme of “Wild World Heroes”, focusing on how the children can help their local environment.

For the first time ever, a Mini Challenge was available for the Under-Fours, with 335 taking part.

The total figure for those taking part in either challenge was 2344 with 1226 (52%) completing the challenge to read six books over the summer holidays.

To support the Challenge lots of events took place in libraries these included 19 animal handling workshops, events by Cheshire Dance, Chester Zoo, Noodle Performance Arts, Radiate Arts, Jem Bear and lots of environmentally themed craft and other activity sessions. In total 972 people attended these events.

Online children’s events were also held. This was initially intended as a contingency in case physical events were not possible but still proved popular. Many children enjoyed a question and answer session with the popular author Onjali Q Rauf.

Children also enjoyed sessions from professional storytellers John Kirk, Robin Simpson and Mama G.

Chester Zoo put on an interactive Zoom event on making habitats for garden creatures, the first they have done online. The Mama G event broke new ground by being online but also shown on a screen at Neston Library, which was watched and enjoyed by children there.

Council Leader and Cabinet Member for Wellbeing, Councillor Louise Gittins said: “This year’s Summer Reading Challenge has been a great success – particularly the environmental theme.

“Our Libraries played their part in helping the environment by removing the need for children to fill in a card registration form this year. The service also stopped giving out plastic and other rewards, such as fridge magnets, to children and switched to medals that can be used next year if not given out.

“A big thank you to everyone who has made this year’s challenge and events possible.”

Councillors provided £5,500 in funding for the Summer Reading Challenge which was used to purchase materials to enable outside events to take place (such as gazebos and picnic blankets) and other items such as craft resources.

Those children who completed the Challenge were entered into a prize draw for either a World Wildlife Fund plush panda (for the Mini Challenge) and BeWILDerwood tickets and books (for four to 12 year olds).

Nationally, the Reading Agency continued its digital offer from last year with its website and events on Facebook. There were 273 active users and 56 completers from the borough on this website.

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