Children’s Promise highlights

This year, the Summer Reading Challenge turned 18! While The Reading Agency will release the official numbers next month, all the signs are that this year’s theme, Animal Agents, has been a hit with families, which is excellent news as we celebrate Libraries’ Week.

Running alongside this is a review of the Summer Reading Challenge. We want to make sure it’s still relevant to families and is sustainable into the future. To help with the review, library authorities across the country have been holding focus groups with children, families and young volunteers. It is clear from these focus groups that everyone loves the Summer Reading Challenge and the different themes. Families also love the events and activities that libraries hold over the summer months to encourage children to visit the library and engage in reading for pleasure.

This week we launched Bump Booster, a new online resource developed for ASCEL by Diane Dixon Associates to help library staff support parents-to-be. It includes guidance for library staff, ideas for parents-to-be and great rhymes to sing to a bump.

To supplement the toolkit four library authorities, Dudley, Leicestershire, Gateshead and Hertfordshire have been carrying out some pilot work with parents-to-be. These good practice examples will be shared following evaluation later in the year and we’re sure that they will provide library staff with useful information and learning for working with parents-to-be.

Over the past year, ASCEL members from library services across the country have created and tested some quality principles for rhyme times. It is important to us that children and their families have a really good experience when they visit the library so that they look forward to visiting and want to come back again. When the framework documentation for testing rhyme times is launched in November it will be available for all library services to use so that we can ensure our library rhyme times give families the best possible experience.

Looking to the future, ASCEL has been doing some exciting work with The Reading Agency around the role of libraries in supporting children and young people’s health and wellbeing and this work will continue as we create a toolkit of resources to enable library staff to deliver activities that will target childhood obesity and oral health.

It certainly is exciting times as we strive to ensure that every child and young person visiting a public library is inspired by an exciting accessible environment which makes reading for pleasure irresistible.

Sue Ball, Chair ASCEL