Avid Young Readers Shine at National Competition

11 Jun 2013

Hundreds of eager children came together last week for the national round of the Books Council’s English-language books competition for primary schools in Wales.

Theatr Brycheiniog in Brecon was taken over for the day by enthusiastic young readers from all corners of Wales who were competing for a several awards by discussing books they had read and performing short dramatic presentations based on them. This year saw even more schools competing than in previous years – an encouraging and welcome sign.

The books competitions’ national rounds are the culmination of activities that take place all across Wales over several months, with children vying for the honour of representing their counties. On Wednesday 5 June, pupils from 11 primary schools were competing keenly for three different awards.

Narberth Community Primary School, Pembrokeshire, were the overall winners – achieving the highest marks for both discussion and presentation – with Golden Grove Community School, also from Pembrokeshire, coming second. Brynteg Primary School, Carmarthenshire, came third overall, which was an excellent achievement considering that they were competing at the national round for the first time. Narberth Primary also won the best group award for discussing Friends at War by Alan Lambert. Willowbrook Primary School, Cardiff, won the award for the best dramatic presentation with a performance based on Harri Harri and the Cat Club by Liz Haigh.

During the day’s activities, the children and teachers also enjoyed an excellent session with award-winning author and storyteller Daniel Morden, the winner of this year’s English-language Tir na n-Og Award. The children were completely enthralled by Daniel’s dramatic and captivating stories, and they were able to interact personally with him during the book signing session. For many children, this interaction with an author gives a surge of enthusiasm that can inspire them to further develop and explore their own reading journeys.

Angharad Tomos, Head of the Children’s Books and Reading Promotion Department at the Books Council, said: "This competition for primary schools is an excellent opportunity and experience for the children to engage with books and reading in a different way. By analysing, discussing, interpreting and performing what they have read, they are able to use their imagination to bring alive some of the wonderful children’s books we have here in Wales. These events prove that reading for pleasure and entertainment can also help improve children’s literacy skills by honing their oracy and reading skills. It was a great pleasure to see the children brimming with enthusiasm during the national round at Brecon, and our thanks go to the dedicated and hard-working individuals – county organisers, teachers and other supporters – that make these events possible."

Thanks to the support of several publishers – Dalen, Dref Wen, Gomer, Pont, Carreg Gwalch, Y Lolfa and Rily – every child who took part in the competitions was invited to choose a free book to take home as a memento of the occasion.

The annual books competition is now firmly established in the calendar of many schools throughout Wales. The feedback received from schools testifies to the value of the activity not only within the school, but also as the pupils compete at county and national levels. According to some 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 direct result of the competition.

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