I am, as everybody knows, always up for a Challenge.
Okay, not as in the kind of challenge that involves bungee jumping,
hurling myself out of an aeroplane or abseiling down a towering building. I am not that courageous. I prefer challenges in which I can keep my feet firmly in the ground.
Today I was at my local library for my first volunteering stint with this year’s Summer Reading Challenge. I had read the Volunteers Charter and Covid-secure regulations, undertaken my Induction Training and watched a hilarious video in which
members of library staff explained the principles of this year’s theme - Wild World Heroes. In short, I was as ready as I would ever be.
In case you don’t
know, the Summer Reading Challenge is an annual event organised by The Reading Agency (I do like an organisation which does what it says on the tin) to encourage littl’uns aged 4 - 11 to read lots of library books during their holiday from school. Their
rewards for such commitment and dedication to the World of Books include scratch and sniff stickers, activity sheets and - at the conclusion of their own personal challenge - a “gold” medal and a certificate.
This would have been my tenth year as a SRC volunteer except that last year’s challenge was all on-line so the services of volunteers like me were not required. It was one of my regular activities
I missed most in the worst year of the pandemic. Imagine my delight, therefore, to discover that I was allowed to be “back in the room” this year - albeit with a number of changes to the process.
I like to kid myself that I am always open to change - but I’m really not. So when I was told that the new stream-lined, Covid-secure process meant I would no longer be sitting across the Summer Reading Challenge desk
listening to the young ones telling me all about the books they had read, I was a little disappointed. In fact, there wouldn’t even be a Summer Reading Challenge desk - instead my job would be to wander around the Children’s Section, pushing my
trolley of goodies and responding to requests to assist parents in signing up their off-spring on-line. I would still be able to hand out certificates and medals to the “finishers” but there would be no felt tip pens with which to write the names
of the successful ones, after allowing them to choose their favourite colour pen.
Well, dear readers, I am pleased to tell you that I loved every minute of my
time in the library this morning. For starters, it was so much more fun being in the midst of the action there among the shelves of story books, picture books, audio books, fact and fiction alike. In previous years, I would start the children off on their
challenge then send them round to the Children’s Section - generally not seeing them again until they waved goodbye at the end of their visit. Today I was in the thick of it, chatting to children and parents alike, helping them find the books they were
looking for, and giving them clues to the whereabouts of the posters depicting the Wild World Heroes pinned up on the walls when they found themselves stuck while trying to complete the Treasure Hunt. In previous years, I might find myself sitting at the desk
just waiting for another family to come through the library’s revolving doors - this year I will be busy all the time. It will be SUCH fun.
up with a few ideas of my own, including bringing some of my own felt tip pens along so that I can still write out the names of the successful readers on their certificates. In some ways, however, it will be more of a challenge for me. For example, I need
to refresh my knowledge / find out much more about the authors of popular children’s books. My most embarrassing mistake this morning was thinking that Tom Gates was an author rather than the hero of a famous series of children’s books; on the
other hand I was as pleased as punch to introduce one young lad to the world of Alex Rider, the teenage “James Bond” of author Anthony Horowitz’s imagination.
Even more challenging is the theme of this year’s Summer Reading Challenge, dedicated to raising environmental awareness and giving children the opportunity to explore ways of saving the planet. Now there’s a challenge, if ever there was
There’s only one thing for it, I just have to get in touch with my Inner Greta Thunberg…