Tag Archives: Summer Reading Challenge

Happy 100th Birthday, Roald Dahl!

Willy Wonka at Maida Vale Library's Roald Dahl centenary party, September 2016Several Westminster libraries held events this week to celebrate the centenary of the author Roald Dahl.

Maida Vale Library held a Roald Dahl 100th birthday party on Tuesday, which followed on nicely from this year’s Summer Reading Scheme, whose ‘Big Friendly Read‘ theme focused on Roald Dahl’s books for children.

It was a jumpsquifflingly* hot and sunny day, but around 25 kiddles* aged 7 and over risked lixivation* for a phizz-whizzing* time. We decorated the library with a flying Willy Wonka and a model of the BFG. We had a variety of frothbuggling* Dahl-themed games, like hiding pictures of his characters around the library, an anagram game from character’s names, Dahl Bingo, spotting words in the poem “The Ant eater”, LOTS of chocolate (it would have been rude not to) and a Dahl themed juice bar – but no swatchscollop snozzcumbers*. Eric even dressed up as the Big Friendly Giant complete with oversized ears.

It went down very well and lots of the children and parents said what a gloriumptious* experience it had been.


Oxford Roald Dahl Dictionary


* If you want to know what these words mean, you’ll have to come and borrow a copy of the Roald Dahl Dictionary!

Big Friendly Medals!

Big Friendly Read 2016 - medal!

It’s the last week of the summer holidays already, and we’ve been holding parties to mark the end of the Summer Reading Challenge events in our libraries… however, there is still time to finish the Challenge and get your medal! So if you haven’t read 6 books yet, don’t worry – you will still be able to visit your local library after school or at the weekend in the next week or so, to tell us about your books and receive a medal for reading 6.

We have had over 1500 children join in the Challenge this summer, so if you are one of them and would like to get your medal, head to your local library soon to make sure you don’t miss out.

And finally – take a look at these great Roald Dahl-themed pop up cards made by children at Maida Vale Library. We hope you’ve all enjoyed joining the Challenge and have been able to come to some of the events. Thanks to everyone who has taken part – to the children, the library staff and all the volunteers – we’ve had a Big Friendly Blast!


Big Friendly Volunteers!

Zack, one of our Summer Reading Challenge 2016 volunteersThis week on the Summer Reading Challenge we’d like to highlight the work of our volunteers.
Every summer, we recruit volunteers to help us deliver the Challenge to our customers. The Reading Agency (who design the materials for the Challenge) have a scheme for young volunteers called ‘Reading Hacks’.
Westminster Libraries take part in this scheme, so many of our summer volunteers are under 25. But we also have some lovely volunteers of all ages, so we have a great mix.

This summer across our 10 libraries we have around 70 volunteers helping us out with the Big Friendly Read. They join children up to the Challenge, explain how it works, then talk to them about their books when they return, giving out rewards to the children afterwards. The volunteers are excellent ‘reading role models’ for the children, encouraging them to read on to get their medal for 6 books.

One of our volunteers at Church Street Library is Zack Fry, pictured above. He’s 17 and this is the first time he has volunteered with us. He is really enjoying it. Some of the highlights for him have been the conversations he has had with children who have been doing the Challenge, he’s been impressed with what children have read. For instance an 8 year old boy read all of the Harry Potter series, and discussed them all in detail. Zack also likes the fact that although he hears about some of the same titles from different children, each child will get something different from the book and pick up on separate things from it. He was also surprised by being called ‘sir’ by one of the children!

Zack says that volunteering at the library for the Summer Reading Challenge, speaking to parents and children that he doesn’t know has definitely boosted his confidence. This is one of the great things about volunteering – we want the volunteers to enjoy themselves as well!

So a big thank you to Zack and to all our volunteers, the Summer Reading Challenge wouldn’t be the same without you!

Big Friendly Read - the Summer Reading Challenge 2016


Not only Dahl – the Big Friendly Read continues

Professor Lightning and his Mad Science workshop at Pimlico Library, August 2016What’s your favourite Roald Dahl story? The BFG, George’s Marvellous Medicine, or perhaps The Twits?
Whatever it is, you don’t have to read only Roald Dahl books to join in this year’s Summer Reading Challenge, The Big Friendly Read. You can read anything you like from the library: joke books, information books, or story books. There is still time to join in, and it’s free – just ask at your local library. If you read 6 books before the Challenge finishes, you receive a medal!

There are also events going on all summer in our libraries, to keep children and families entertained. Here is one of our entertainers, Boo Hiccup, performing magic tricks and all round silliness at Maida Vale Library – the children LOVED it!

Boo Hiccup at Maida Vale Library, August 2016 Boo Hiccup at Maida Vale Library, August 2016

And in the style of Georges’ Marvellous Medicine, ‘Mad Science’ came along to Pimlico Library to conduct some science experiments with the children. Here (and above) is Professor Lightening making some troll bogeys… actually linked polymers. It was great fun!

Professor Lightning and his Mad Science workshop at Pimlico Library, August 2016


Chocolate Challenge!

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald DahlAs part of the Summer Reading Challenge, Maida Vale Library hosted a Chocolate Challenge!

Children came along to design and make their own chocolate boxes and chocolates from salt dough and give them exciting Dahlesque names like ‘Strawberry Fizzwanglers’ and ‘Crocolate Snappetizers’.

The event was a great success with over 40 children attending and a scrumdelicious time was had by all. Real chocolate was handed out to the chocolatiers, so no one left empty handed!

Big Friendly Read - the Summer Reading Challenge 2016

We’ve got many more Big Friendly Read events in Westminster Libraries – chocolate-themed or otherwise – right through the summer holidays. Check the Big Friendly Read page or follow @WCCLibraries on Twitter for all the details.


The BFM: Big Friendly… Music

'Music for Giants' at Westminster Music Library, August 2016It’s the Summer Reading Challenge again, and Westminster Music Library always joins in! But what could we do to inspire our Summer Reading Challenge participants that would embrace this year’s theme – The Big Friendly Read?

We love reading, we love music, and we like to celebrate all things musical in a big and friendly way, so how about some giant-sized compositional creativity?

But first, like famous composers the world over, we needed some inspiration ourselves. There can be none better than watching some clips from that great British musical institution – The BBC Promenade concerts – better known as The Proms. Taking place every summer in The Royal Albert Hall, what proved especially appealing to our would-be Mozarts was all the fun and frivolity that happens on The Last Night:

Suitably inspired by The Sailor’s Hornpipe and Rule Britannia, our budding composers set their creative juices to work. Lots of giant-sized notes to choose from, giant-sized staves to stick them on to, and a little help from our Big Friendly Music Library Team and the Big Friendly Children’s Librarian. We definitely had some musical prodigies in the making, before long some interesting and unusual melodies had started to appear; all manner of original harmonies which would doubtless impress some of our greatest composers.

'Music for Giants' at Westminster Music Library, August 2016

'Music for Giants' at Westminster Music Library, August 2016

But no composer can be satisfied until they’ve heard their “magnum opus” performed, these Big Friendly tunes need to be played!

'Music for Giants' at Westminster Music Library, August 2016 'Music for Giants' at Westminster Music Library, August 2016

Luckily Westminster Music Library boasts a splendid piano, and even luckier, our Music Library Team has a pianist – who (fortunately) can sight read. Giant scores at the ready for our grand finale concert, this years’ Summer Reading Challenge as presented by the next generation of Big Friendly composers!

Big Friendly Read - the Summer Reading Challenge 2016


This week in The Big Friendly Read

The heatwave seems to have left us (for the time being at least) – but don’t worry, even if the weather is rubbish we have lots to entertain younger customers in our libraries!

Big Friendly Read - the Summer Reading Challenge 2016

They can join in the Summer Reading Challenge, the theme of which is Roald Dahl this year. Check out the official website – it’s got suggestions for what to read next, games to play and competitions.

As well as the Challenge, we have organised a (writing) shed full of events in libraries, all free! Why not check out what’s on at your local library over the holiday?

Here is a taste of what’s been going on this week:

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