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.


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:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


The Big Friendly Read

To celebrate 100 years of one of the world’s favourite storytellers, Roald Dahl, libraries are running The Big Friendly Read this summer holidays.

Rachel from Tiny Tunes entertaining the under fives at Marylebone libraryThe Summer Reading Challenge 2016 will feature some of Roald Dahl’s best-loved characters and the amazing artwork of his principal illustrator, Sir Quentin Blake. It will encourage reading on a BFG scale!
Aimed at primary school aged children, the Big Friendly Read is happening at libraries across Westminster all summer.

To take part in the Challenge, all children need to do is sign up at their nearest library. It’s free! They’ll receive a special collector’s folder and as they borrow and read at least six library books over the summer, they can collect six special cards to complete it. The cards all feature original Quentin Blake illustrations and explore some of most popular themes in Roald Dahl’s books such as invention, mischief and friendship. Plus there are other rewards to collect along the way.

Big Friendly Read - the Summer Reading Challenge 2016

There’s a whole programme of events and activities planned in Westminster libraries for families over the summer to celebrate the Summer Reading Challenge. Have a look at what’s on at your local library.

Here are a few pictures of what’s been going on this week:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Record Breaking Volunteers

Record Breakers logoThe Summer Reading Challenge update this week focuses on the work of our volunteers. With lots of children and families using our libraries to join in Record Breakers over the summer, we have a great team of ‘reading mentors’ who volunteer over the holiday to help us deliver the Challenge.

We have some fabulous helpers who have been talking to children about their books, handing out stickers and rewards and assisting with events. Children have loved taking to them and telling them about their books.

There have been 90 summer volunteers this year across our 10 libraries, so far giving over 950 hours between them. That’s a lot of stickers given out! In turn our volunteers have enjoyed their time with us and have gained some valuable work experience.

Zahra, Summer reading Challenge Volunteer 2015

Pictured is Zahra, one of the summer volunteers at Maida Vale Library, who says:

“It’s a blessing to work with a scheme that helps to maintain and enhance the kids’ reading over the summer, so that when they’re back in school they don’t lose that confidence or excitement in reading… It’s a privilege to help get all involved in the fun, to see the various creative activities happening in the library and to work alongside such a great team. Absolutely recommend everyone to volunteer and to get involved in any way possible, whichever borough you’re in and whenever you can. It’s worth it – lovely people and a lovely initiative!”

A big THANK YOU to all our volunteers!


Summer at Maida Vale Library

Maida Vale LibraryThe school holidays are now upon us and this year’s Summer Reading Challenge has started at Maida Vale Library. We have a packed programme of events for children over the next 6 weeks, but for us our summer really began with our Fair a few Saturdays ago.

Holding it on 4 July during Wimbledon on one of the hottest days of the year may not have been the best of ideas, but we still managed to pull in the crowds and had more than double our number of Saturday visits recorded.

Bridget's Bespoke Cakes at Maida Vale Library Summer Fair 2015A whole range of handmade goods were on sale over 24 stalls along with vintage and retro items from yesteryear, jewellery, children’s clothes, toys, DVDs, books and CDs. One of our customers even donated a whole range of unwanted outdoor plants which were all hastily re-potted ready for sale!

Especially popular were local entrepreneurs Moira from Made in Maida Vale and Michelle from Bridget’s Bespoke Cakes who sold a selection of delicious jams, preserves and cakes.

Made in Maida Vale at Maida Vale Library Summer Fair 2015

The fair was even talked about in the local Waitrose, where someone was overheard stating that

“It was really good and I really look forward to another one. I got real bargains and talked to lots of people.”

So hot on the heels of this positive feedback, plans are afoot to hold the next one on Saturday 14 November 2015. In the meantime we have a sale of ex-library stock taking place on Saturday 8 August.

Watch out for more announcements on up and coming events at Maida Vale…


Out and about with Tommy the Tegu

Westminster Libraries were well-represented at Walterton & Elgin Community Homes’ annual Summer Festival on Sunday 19 July. Stef and Lucy, promoting libraries in general and the Summer Reading Challenge in particular, were joined by Kate who provided information on current health initiatives including Books on Prescription.

Queen's Park Library stall at Walterton & Elgin Community Homes’ Summer Festival 2015

We were pleased to find that many of the children we met were already well aware of the Challenge, but this was a great opportunity to speak to parents directly about its positive impact, as well as all the prizes and free events the kids love so much.

Tommy the Tegu at Walterton & Elgin Community Homes’ Summer Festival 2015 Tommy the Tegu finds out what's going on at the local library - Walterton & Elgin Community Homes’ Summer Festival 2015

Beautiful weather, ice-cream and lots of fun and games –  including our Record Breakers Treasure Hunt – made for a busy afternoon and we had over 160 visitors to the stall. The most unusual was definitely Tommy the Tegu, who made a beeline for us while on a walkabout from a mini-zoo attraction. He was quite taken with the Summer Reading Challenge events brochure.


Are you ready to read?

Join the Record Breakers Summer Reading Challenge!

Schools are now breaking up for the summer and 6 weeks of long holiday lie ahead… what will your children be doing? Visit your local library this summer to see all the events and activities for children which are on offer. There are events on throughout the 6 weeks, so there is lots to choose from!

Record Breakers logoIf your children like a Challenge, why not bring them to join this year’s Record Breakers? All they need to do is read 6 library books over the holidays, and they’ll receive stickers and rewards for telling us about them.

It’s free to join, just visit your nearest library to sign up – all they need is a library card. There’s a medal for everyone who reads 6 books!

What weird, wonderful or wacky records will you and your kids discover?


All the fun of the Fayre!

Marylebone Liubrary stall at the Summer Fayre 2015I missed last year’s Marylebone Summer Fayre, so I’d forgotten how much fun it is.

The Howard de Walden Estate – which owns most of Marylebone – closes the High Street and several of the side streets (in cahoots with the Council, of course), installs a music stage in Paddington Street Gardens, and populates the whole area with stalls selling an astonishing range of food and drink, a tempting array of jewellery and craftwork, and us! Marylebone Library has had a stall for several years now, and as outreach it’s hard to beat.

We joined people up, we made sure that existing members knew about all our services, and we flogged some withdrawn DVDs and CDs (which flew off the table).

Marylebone Liubrary stall at the Summer Fayre 2015

Were we downhearted when it rained hard? Well, yes, we were rather! But we stiffened our upper lips and carried on, and it didn’t last long. Soon the crowds were back on the streets, and the party carried on right through the afternoon.

I think a good time was had by all. It was by me.