Children chill out with spooky summer reads

SPOOKY READING ... best-selling author Tommy Donbavand with children at Jarrow Library as part of the Spooky Summer Reading Challenge.
SPOOKY READING ... best-selling author Tommy Donbavand with children at Jarrow Library as part of the Spooky Summer Reading Challenge.

fearless South Tyneside youngsters haven’t been put off taking part in a spine-tingling scheme run by South Tyneside Libraries this summer.

Staff have been encouraging little bookworms to enter the Creepy House and take part in the fun that lurks within.

Every year, tens of thousands of children take part in the Summer Reading Challenge, backed by The Reading Agency and the Arts Council.

This year’s theme is Creepy House, a spine-tingling adventure illustrated by award-winning artist Chris Riddell.

In the first two weeks of the summer holidays, 1,800 children signed up in South Tyneside and 13,847 books were issued – up 2,868 on the same period last year.

When you take into account the recent hot weather, the figures are pretty impressive.

Pauline Martin, stock and reader development librarian at Jarrow Library, said: “We’re almost at the end of this year’s Summer Reading Challenge, promoting reading for pleasure.

“Aimed at children aged four to 11, it inspires children to read in the long summer break, when their reading skills can decline without the regular reading activity at school.

“Throughout the summer, we provide free, high-quality creative and cultural activities for children in a safe and welcoming environment.

“As you read, you can collect incentives and have a chance of winning book tickets, tickets to our exclusive prize-winners presentation event and film show, sponsored by The Barbour Foundation and local community area forums, and even a Nintendo 3DS.”

A total of 162 activities took place in libraries throughout the six weeks, including crafts, animal handling, writing workshops, storytime sessions, games and author visits.

Tommy Donbavand, creator of the Scream Street series, did three sessions at Jarrow Library with children set to join Year 7 at Jarrow School in September.

Pauline said: “He was brilliant and had the children howling with laughter.

“He spoke about why he started writing and he talked a lot about his influences as a child.

“He also told funny stories, like the time he used his baby sister to wipe down a slide.

“He was telling them all about Scream Street, which is his main set of books, and the characters in them, Luke the werewolf, Resus Negative, the wannabe vampire, and Cleo, a mummy.

“He had them play different games and they basically took over the library.”

Children have to read just six books to earn a certificate and medal, with more goodies up for grabs the more books they read.

Lucinda Bewick, whose son Bendigedig, five, took part in sessions led by Graham Hodgson from Hawthorn Arts, in Westoe Road, South Shields, said: “Bendigedig thoroughly enjoyed them and is very proud of his artworks.

“Graham had a lovely manner with the children, and really helped them all to complete a decent work of art.

“It was definitely a highlight of the summer!

“Thanks also for the Winnie the Witch workshop at Jarrow Library, a wonderful session and the sort of thing we’d definitely like to attend again in the future.

“Bendigedig’s loved taking part in the Summer Reading Challenge. He loves getting the rewards and is very proud of every one he’s received so far.”

For more information on the Creepy House Summer Reading Challenge, visit your local library or call 424 7885. The scheme closes on Saturday.

There’s still time to complete the challenge, which closes on Saturday.

Twitter: @shieldsgazedu