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Libraries launch Reading Well for children

On 3 February 2020, we launched Reading Well for children, a new scheme providing recommended reading to help children understand their feelings and worries and cope with tough times.

Read on for a roundup of the week’s events and activities held by libraries and schools to mark the occasion alongside Children’s Mental Health Week (3-9 Feb).

Library events

Birmingham Mobile Library Service was promoting Reading Well on the move, and Guildford library combined Reading Well with a storytelling and wellbeing workshop for children based around the Children’s Mental Health Week theme ‘Find Your Brave’.

Many libraries teamed up with local schools to promote the list. Ludlow Library in Shropshire invited pupils from a local primary school to play wellbeing bingo and hear about the new list, while Nottingham Libraries spread the positive message about the proven power of reading to 100 Year 4 pupils through storytelling, craft, and mindfulness workshops and a performance from author and poet John Dougherty.

Up in the North East, South Tyne libraries held an event with a local nursery, NHS trust, councillors and the Big Blue Bear!

Not to be outdone, North Tyneside Council took a deep dive into the Reading Well books through workshops in a local school. Hear the children’s views on The Colour Thief and #Goldilocks in their fantastic video of the day’s activities!

Health sector outreach

NHS libraries were also joining in the fun – in North East London, NELFT library took Reading Well title #Goldilocks to a local school to open up conversations about health literacy and social media use, and a Leeds NHS library was busy encouraging their NHS colleagues to recommend all five Reading Well booklists to their patients.

St Helens libraries took the book collection directly out to a local medical centre, where children in the waiting room got stuck in!

Reading Well author visits

The Reading Well authors have also been busy visiting libraries to talk to children about their feelings and worries.

Molly Potter, author of What’s Going On Inside My Head? and How Are You Feeling Today?, led an interactive session at Taverham library in Norfolk, helping children to think about how they can maintain positive mental health and build resilience.

And Tom Percival, author of Ruby’s Worry, was quite the troubadour, delivering workshops and talks to children and stakeholders in South Gloucestershire, Leicestershire, and the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead!

National launch event

And we haven’t been slacking here at Reading Well HQ either! On Wednesday 5 February, we held a flagship launch event at the Wellcome Trust in London. The panel of guest speakers included Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, Sarah Mears, Project Manager at Libraries Connected, and Dr Barbie Clarke, child psychotherapist and Reading Well book selection panellist who led on our co-production work with children and families for the list.

We were also treated to a moving reading by author Joseph Coelho from his Reading Well title If All The World Were… (illustrations by Allison Colpoys) – with audience participation!

There was an excellent turnout of dedicated library staff, health partners, authors and publishers, from up and down the country. Browse #ReadingWell on Twitter for more snapshots of the day!

Reading Well online

It was great to see so much online and social media activity from libraries throughout the week, helping to boost the #ReadingWell hashtag! Our social media cards and other digital promotional resources can be used anytime and are all available to download from our promotional toolkit.

Other online best practice included a feature from Norfolk Education Library Service with their top picks from the list, a librarian’s top pick from Hampshire, and a user-friendly dedicated Reading Well section on the Luton libraries website!

Reading Well in the press

Libraries weren’t the only ones talking about Reading Well for children – we were also featured in The Guardian online and in print over the weekend, as well as the Waitrose Weekend magazine. You may also have heard us on the airwaves – BBC Radio Sheffield featured Chesterfield library’s Reading Well event (from 49:30), and BBC Radio Scotland interviewed The Reading Agency’s own Creative Director Debbie Hicks and Reading Well author Molly Potter (from 1:38:50).

Thanks to all for your support and engagement with the new list, and we look forward to more Reading Well for children activity in the future!

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