Buzzing Atmosphere at National Competition

26 Jun 2012

Hundreds of children came together last week for two days of activity, which formed the national rounds of the  Books Council’s  Welsh-language books competition for primary schools. The Arts Centre at Aberystwyth was buzzing as 34 teams from all corners of Wales competed for a number of awards by discussing books and performing short dramatic presentations.

The national rounds are the culmination of activities that take place all across Wales over several months, with approximately 4,000 children competing for the honour of representing their counties in the books competition’s national rounds.

Tuesday, 19 June, saw Year 3 and 4 pupils competing keenly for the main award – the Dr Dewi Davies Shield, for the Anwen Tydu Memorial Award which is given for the best dramatic presentation, and also for the best group discussion award. The main award was won this year by Ysgol Cefn Coch, Penrhyndeudraeth, with Ysgol Pen Barras, Ruthin, coming second and Ysgol Bod Alaw, Colwyn Bay, third. Ysgol Bod Alaw also won the award for the best dramatic presentation with a performance based on Henri Helynt a’r Llau, and Ysgol Cefn Coch won the best group discussion prize. Tudur Budr: Jyrms was the book they had chosen to discuss.

On Wednesday, 20 June, the Arts Centre was once more full of enthusiastic children as Year 5 and 6 pupils competed for the corresponding awards. This time, Ysgol Sant Curig, Barry, took the main award, with Ysgol Treganna and Tan yr Eos, Cardiff, in second place and Ysgol Gymraeg Aberystwyth third. Interestingly, Sant Curig and Treganna and Tan yr Eos schools were repeating their successes of 2011. Ysgol Treganna and Tan yr Eos also won the Anwen Tydu Memorial Award for a dramatic presentation based on the book James a’r Eirinen Wlanog Enfawr, and Ysgol Gymraeg Aberystwyth won the best group discussion. They had chosed to discuss Prism by Manon Steffan Ros, winner of the Tir na n-Og 2012 primary category award.

Elwyn Jones, Chief Executive of the Books Council, said, "The books competition for primary schools is an initiative that introduces children to the joys of reading whilst honing their analytical, discussion and interpretation skills, and providing a platform for their performing talents. The national rounds are always busy, vibrant days, which wouldn’t be possible without the hard work of the county organisers – librarians and education officers – and teachers."

In addition to the competitions, author and children’s book illustrator Jac Jones – who recently received the 2012 Mary Vaughan Jones Award – held workshops on both days. This was a wonderful opportunity for the children to learn more about his work and how he sets about illustrating children’s books. Samples of Jac’s work were on display and the children were able to buy his books and have them signed by him.

Every child who took part in the competitions was invited to choose a free book to take home as a memento, thanks to the support of Gomer Press, Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, Y Lolfa, Dalen and Rily publications.

The Welsh-language books competition is now firmly established in the annual calendar of many schools across Wales. Due to its success over the last few years, the national round has grown from a one-day to a two-day event. The annual feedback from schools testifies to the value of the acitivity not only within the school, but also as the pupils compete at county and national levels. According to some of the teachers who have taken part in the competitions, the activity helps to raise oracy standards and a number of children have come to enjoy reading as a result of the competition.

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