This week I decided that our chosen activity would be more sedate, in fact sitting in the sun or lying in bed are ideal positions! It is one of my favourite things to do and I am pleased that I have also trained my girls to appreciate and really enjoy this activity – it’s simply reading.
So if you are looking for free activities for your children or grandchildren this summer, then read on to the second half of this post (which I appreciate will not be directly relevant to everyone). However the first part might get your attention and indirectly we all have a vested interest in the subject – supporting our local library.
Some of this information is specifically about Axminster, my local town, where the library has remained open and thriving thanks to the efforts of dedicated group of campaigners, both staff and volunteers – really, we shouldn’t have to campaign for a library to stay open should we? However the support has proved how vital people feel a resource like the library is for a town – it’s so much more than being just about library books.
I’ve had a similar conversation with our local Tourist Information Office (which has also fought to stay open). These traditional non profit institutions seem to struggle to prove their worth. In a world where so much value is based on profits and turnover, we seem to be losing the merit of community spirit, places for advice and local information (whatever happened to the Citizens Advise Bureau?) and face to face conversations with people who know useful stuff.
Whatever your age the library is a great place. Our librarians can suggest a new book to a regular based on their previous borrowing history or search for and order in a book from a different branch. They engage with children and point them towards the right level for the young readers section so they can search for fun and interesting books and help the reluctant reader find something that grabs their attention. OK an Amazon algorithm can sort of do the same but then you have to part with your hard earned cash and wait for it to arrive, I know which I’d prefer.
National Summer Reading Scheme – at a library near you
Dr Sarah Jones, the library manager said to me ” This is not about reading schemes, it’s about finding books that children really enjoy – that might be stories but it could equally be fact books, comic books or poetry”.
Here are the services offered by your local library:
~ Fiction books
~ Travel Guides
~ Language courses (with CDs so you can learn in the car)
~ Cookery books (try before you buy!)
~ History – lots for adults and children
~ Audio books
~ Other non fiction, for grown ups and children
~ DVDs – regular block buster films for all ages, a small fee to hire (I’ve just had a flashback to the days of heading to the video hire store on a Friday night for a video and a large bag of crisps!)
Importantly if you can’t see what you want then ask and the librarians will endeavour to order it in for you.
Now back to our visit. I’m delighted to say that my children asked to go to the opening event of the National Summer Reading Scheme, which encourages children to read (or listen) to 6 books over the summer holidays.
The library staff and volunteers absolutely threw themselves into this. Before the event giant footprints appeared on the pavements around town leading to the library, they belong to the BFG, (Big Friendly Giant) and extra activities were laid on during the day.
Children made a “frobscottle” drink, coloured in BFG ears and had Lego to play with, the small library was absolutely buzzing.
The number of children already signed up to the scheme was proudly displayed on the wall and by the time I’d left was more than 100. What’s also important is the number who complete the challenge which is then compared to other Devon Libraries.
The local press were invited to take a photo as well.
Children can sign up to the challenge at any point over the summer, but the later you leave it the harder it might be to complete. Remember it’s not just books, comics, poetry and even audio books count too, these are so great for a long car journey.
Throughout the summer there is a different theme and children’s craft activities each week, based on the Summer Reading Challenge, which this year is celebrating 100 years of Roald Dahl books, a firm favourite with many, who are also looking ahead to the feature film later this year. More info about the scheme at this link.
See below for details each week in Axminster or check with your own local library to see what they have on offer.
You can sign up to the reading challenge at any point over the summer. It’s not just books, comics, poetry and even audio books count too, great for a long car journey.
Throughout the summer holidays Axminster library will continue with Lego Club (every Saturday 12-1pm), Bounce and Rhyme session for toddlers (every Tuesday 9.30-10am) and Story time for 4-7 year olds (the first Saturday of the month 9.30-10am).
So what’s not to like? If you are not a regular library goer then why not pop along to your local library and see what takes your fancy – it is a free way to occupy your child during the holidays and you may head home with a book yourself just like I did this week. It’s one of those places we take for granted, but in the well used phrase – use it or lose it.
Axminster Library opening times are as follows:
Monday 10 – 1pm
Tuesday 10 – 6pm
Thursday 10 – 5pm
Saturday 10 – 1pm
Wednesday and Friday – closed
So what to read? You know what interests your children so that is a good guide. We’ve been through the fairy phase, horse phase (Pippa Funnel) and Roald Dahl is still popular (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda). They’ve never quite got to grips with Micheal Morpugo! Boys often like factual books and comics more – it really doesn’t matter what kids read, it’s about enjoying quiet time and learning to entertain yourself away from screens. I also spent 3 years as an Usborne representative and can thoroughly recommend their books which range from baby bath books, early phonics books and non fiction, right up to quality young teenagers fiction
Personally I love a bit of historical fiction, I was never great at history at school so I’ve learnt lots reading Phillapa Gregory!