Summer reading challenges take place nationally in the six weeks holiday and the volunteers who operate Thirsk Library, on behalf of North Yorkshire County Council, have followed the same model for the Christmas break.
But the event has become a community effort, involving volunteers who keep the library running, crafters who have also supplied their expertise to give children ‘craft bags’ with projects to complete, along with funding for the materials from Thirsk Rotary Club.
Coronavirus restrictions mean the scheme cannot operate in the conventional way, but those involved were determined to provide the opportunity for youngsters to keep up with their reading as well as having fun and have been delighted by the scale of the response.
Children are asked to work their way through four books to complete the challenge, with the task of keeping their reading record up to date trusted to parents because of social distancing needs.
Various options have been introduced to get the books to children, including home deliveries, with the option of allowing library staff to make suitable selections of titles where appropriate.
Thirsk Library has support for funding its lease from the County Council and the authority maintains the supply of books and IT equipment, but is operated on a day-to-day basis by volunteers operating as a charity.
Chair of trustees Sally Burton said:
We decided that any child up to the age of 11 could take part, either collecting the books or having them delivered. We have tried to make it as flexible as possible.
Thirsk Rotary donated £500 for craft materials and they have been supplied with instructions of how to use them.
The project follows volunteers’ hard work to try to integrate the library into the community as closely as possible, work which has been challenged by coronavirus social distancing restrictions and lockdowns.
Organising the reading challenge had been a way of keeping the library in touch with families, said Sally:
We are aware a lot of children will have missed school. This has been a real community effort.
County Councillor Greg White, Executive Member for Libraries, said:
It is tremendous to see the good work being done by volunteers at the county’s libraries.
Organising a reading challenge in these difficult times demonstrates the commitment of the volunteers and the response it has received from the community indicates how welcome it is.