18th November 2019

Summer Reading Challenge lands after successful mission

Over 7,000 children visited libraries across Somerset to take part in ‘Space Chase’ – this year’s national Summer Reading Challenge inspired by the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing.

Children signed up to read up to six books over the summer and received rewards for every book they read.

During the holidays over 160,000 books were read in total and hundreds of children and families took part in free events held in their local libraries such as slime making, story times, 3D printing, Virtual reality, LEGO days, Nintendo Switch gaming events, and many more.

Cllr David Hall, Somerset County Council Cabinet Member with responsibility for libraries said:  “The Summer Reading challenge has been a tremendous success with active participation from across the whole of Somerset. Feedback from children and families has shown that this initiative makes a real impact to encourage reading, whilst the events and activities have raised the profile of libraries as engaging places to come and have fun!

“I would like to thank all the volunteers who were intrinsic to the success of the Challenge, an impressive 86 volunteers as well as local friends’ groups from across Somerset gave up their time to help support and give back to their local library and their local communities” 

One of the volunteers, Jack Mercer signed up to support his local library during the Summer Reading Challenge: “I enjoy the volunteering and engaging with the families. There is a lovely atmosphere in the library, the children are delightful, and the Challenge helps build their confidence. The role plays an important part in supporting children’s learning – the summer holidays are long and a great opportunity to get everyone reading! It was lovely to see the excitement and satisfaction the children got when they reached the six books target.”

Another volunteer, Gordon Carter was the oldest volunteer in the county (at 86 years of age). Gordon explained: “This was the first time I had volunteered for the library and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience – it was lovely to be able to make a bit of a fuss of the children that came along to take part in the Challenge and encourage them to keep reading. But I also really enjoyed being with the other volunteers and I think I may have even passed on a bit of life-experience to the younger ones!”

One of the youngest Summer Reading Challenge volunteers, Rowan Packer-Hughes who often worked alongside Gordon in Taunton library added: “I was nervous about being a volunteer, but I really enjoyed it. The other volunteers were great company and I liked being able to help with a scheme that I used to do when I was younger. It was amazing how many children took part – I had no idea it was so popular. I’m so grateful for the library giving me the opportunity to do my Duke of Edinburgh voluntary work there. It pushed me outside my comfort zone, but in a really good way. I was surprised how much I liked having a focus for my summer holidays!”

Volunteering can be a great way to learn something new and there are lots of opportunities to volunteer at libraries now the Summer Reading Challenge has ended. To find out more please contact the team at volunteer@somerset.gov.uk or through our website https://volunteering.somerset.gov.uk/