Over 7,700 Somerset Children took part in Summer Reading Challenge

Somerset County Council Libraries have enjoyed one of their most successful years yet for the Summer Reading Challenge.

Over the summer months libraries were filled to the brim with children enjoying books, with an incredible 7,708 children taking part in the challenge, which encourages children to read six library books.

The theme of this year’s challenge, Animal Agents, saw libraries hosting a range of animal and detective themed activities, including visits from PAT (Pets As Therapy) Dogs. Children worked towards solving the special library mystery by reading all six books.

Over 5,000 of the children who took part completed the challenge and received a gold medal, a fantastic achievement.

Libraries saw the highest level of participation in the last few years in the Summer Reading Challenge, with Somerton and Cheddar libraries in particular seeing more than a 60 per cent increase in participation compared to 2016. Libraries were also delighted to see an increase in library membership, with over 1,300 children aged between 4 and 11 joining their local library during July and August and an enormous 160,000 children’s books issued during the same period.

This year’s success has been a wonderful reward for the hard work put in by both staff and volunteers, of which there were over 100 this year. One volunteer from Crewkerne library noted: “Getting to help encourage children’s literacy and love of reading first-hand, particularly in helping to recommend books that I loved growing up, has been by far the highlight of my four years of volunteering experience at my library (but particularly this year!) – as well as working within the environment of a library, which has been very calming and friendly”.

Councillor David Hall, Cabinet Member at Somerset County Council responsible for libraries, said: “It is enormously encouraging to see that our children are so engaged with reading and their local library. Our libraries are a great place for children to develop a thirst for knowledge and grow their social skills. It is a testament to the hard work and commitment of our libraries that there has been such a high level of participation the Summer Reading Challenge this year.”