Rural Library calls on kids to get reading for prizes!

A South Shropshire library managed by a rural community group is calling on children in the area to get reading for the summer holidays.

The Bishop’s Castle Library is holding the national Summer Reading Challenge, organised annually by The Reading Agency, and is encouraging children to get reading to win prizes.  The challenge is free to join.

Tara Lewis, who runs the library on behalf of Enterprise South West Shropshire, based at Enterprise House in Bishop’s Castle, said the reading scheme is a great way to encourage children to read for pleasure and keep reading over the summer holidays. She has recently visited a number of local schools to explain the scheme to the children.

She said: “The theme this year is Wild World Heroes with support from the WWF,  looking after nature and habitats.  In line with the theme, we have a booked Corner Exotics Animal Handling event and it has been so popular, we’ve added another date!  We have lots of new books about animals and the planet, although children can read anything they enjoy.

“The books do not have to come from the library if you’d rather read your own, but make sure you write them down in your Summer Reading pack, which you receive when you sign up.  Children receive scratch and sniff stickers and prizes for every 2 books they read.”

Mrs Lewis said that thanks to the Friends of the Library, the children who read all six books will also be able to choose a prize from a big lucky dip, in addition to getting the annual medal and certificate for completing.

“The idea is that children will read a book a week through the summer holidays but, of course, if they are reading a particularly long book, they can come and chat to us and we will work something out!” she said.

In 2019, the last year the library was able to run the Summer Reading Challenge, Bishop’s Castle had a 76 percent completion rate with just under 200 children signed up.

She said: “It’s really successful and helps engage local children. In September, I will be revisiting local schools to hand out medals and certificates with a little ceremony.

There are also prizes for those that go above and beyond.”

Mrs Lewis said the library, which is supported by Shropshire Council but has been run by ESWS since 2016, has lots of other fun events coming up in the next few months too.

She said: “The advantage of being run by a community organisation means we have more freedom to provide what our community needs and we are able to tailor our services to our specific community.

“For example, we run a very popular tea and coffee morning every six weeks, which has started up again and is a life-line to people who have been feeling isolated during lockdown. ”

In the Autumn, Mrs Lewis will be starting up a small focus group with older primary school children and teenagers to discuss graphic novels.

She said: “Graphic novels are so popular among that age group and we want to find out which books they would like to read and see available at the library.  We hope to curate a local collection with their help.  It is the community’s library, so we are keen to hear feedback from all ages. 

“We are also looking to re-start our Minecraft Club, for which Enterprise House lent us its laptops. We are going to build a replica of what they think Bishop’s Castle might look like and then blow it up with creepers!”

The library will also be taking part in a national event called Fun Palaces in October, which encourages local people with talents and expertise to share their knowledge in the community by holding small workshops.

Rob McKay, Manager of Enterprise South West Shropshire, said: “The library is a vital resource for the local community and goes above and beyond to provide events and engage people in reading.

“We were delighted to take on the running of the library from Shropshire Council as it has saved a vital rural service for our community.”

For more information about ESWS and the library, see