Success for Eager Young Readers From All Over Wales

2 Jul 2013

Hundreds of eager children from 31 schools came together for two days recently to take part in the national rounds of the Books Council’s Welsh-language Books Competition for primary schools in Wales.

The Arts Centre at Aberystwyth was taken over by enthusiastic young readers from all corners of Wales who were competing for a number of prestigious awards by discussing books and performing short dramatic presentations based on books they had read.

The national rounds are the culmination of activities that take place in all parts of Wales over several months, with children competing for the honour of representing their counties.

The competition for Years 3 and 4 took place on Wednesday, 19 June. Ysgol Melin Gruffydd, Cardiff, were the overall winners with the highest marks for discussion and presentation; Ysgol y Castell, Caerphilly, took second place, and Ysgol Sant Curig, Vale of Glamorgan, came third overall. Ysgol Sant Curig also won the award for the best dramatic presentation with a performance based on Ganthrig Bwt y Wrach by Catherine Aran. Ysgol Pen Barrras, Ruthin, won the award for the best group discussion; their choice of book was Nain! Nain! Nain! by Sian Eirian Rees Davies.

On Thursday 20 June, it was the turn of Years 5 and 6. Ysgol Edern, Gwynedd were the overall winners of the Dr Dewi Davies Award, with Ysgol y Frenni, Pembrokeshire, taking second place. Joint third were Ysgol y Wern, Cardiff, and Ysgol Bryn-y-Môr, Swansea. The Anwen Tydu Memorial Trophy for the best dramatic presentation was won by Ysgol y Frenni, Pembrokeshire, with a performance based on Gwalch y Nen, adapted by Elin Meek. Ysgol Edern, Gwynedd, won the award for the best group discussion; their choice of book was Llygaid Mistar Neb, adapted by Emily Huws.

As part of the activities arranged, children and teachers also enjoyed excellent sessions with author Nicholas Daniels and Aneirin Karadog, the Welsh Children’s Poet Laureate for 2013–2015. For many children, this interaction with an author produces 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 make use of their imagination and bring to life some of the wonderful children’s books we have available here in Wales. These events prove that reading for pleasure and entertainment can also help improve children’s literacy 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 we would like to express our thanks to the dedicated and hard-working people – county organisers, teachers and other supporters – who make these events possible."

Thanks to the support of various publishers – Dalen, Dref Wen, Gomer Press, Carreg Gwalch, Y Lolfa and Rily Publications – every child who took part was invited to select a free book to take home as a memento of the occasion.

The books competition is now firmly established in the annual calendar of many schools across Wales. The annual feedback from schools testifies to the value of the activity – not only within individual schools, but also as the pupils compete at county and national levels. According to some teachers, the activity helps to raise standards of oracy, and a number of children have come to enjoy reading as a result of the competition.

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