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‘Animal Agents’ help to launch the 2017 Summer Reading Challenge

Posted on 05 Jul 2017

Children and families across Devon are invited to meet real-life ‘Animal Agents’ as Devon Libraries launch the 2017 Summer Summer Reading Challenge Animal Agents Devon LibrariesReading Challenge at Barnstaple Library.

The Summer Reading Challenge, run by The Reading Agency in partnership with libraries, encourages children to read six books of their choice during the summer holidays. This year’s Animal Agents themed Challenge launches across the UK on Saturday 15th July.

To celebrate, Libraries Unlimited, the charity responsible for running Devon Libraries, is kicking off the summer activities with a special launch event at Barnstaple Library. On the day, children will have the opportunity to meet animals from Exmoor Zoo, Exmoor Pony Centre, Really Wild Learning and Safe Haven Exotics.

The event, which runs from 10am – 3pm in Library Square and Castle Green, will also have a range of local authors on hand to inspire and encourage children to sign-up to the six week challenge, as well as stalls, activities and crafts. FabLab Devon will be running live demonstrations of 3D scanning, printing and design, allowing users to get a feel of the new services that will be available at the Library later this year thanks to funding from Arts Council England (ACE).

Organisations such as Devon Wildlife Trust, The Plough Arts Centre, Sciencedipity, Goodwin Art Gallery, Exmoor National Park and Phatdog Events will also be at the event, which is being supported by Landkey Girl Guides, who will be on hand to help Library staff run the event and sign children up to the Challenge.

Local authors including Dan Metcalf, Claire Barker, Lisa McNeill, Alan Bosley and Victoria Eveleigh will also be at the event, holding storytelling sessions and inspiring children to get involved in the activities.

The aim of the Summer Reading Challenge is to encourage children to continue reading for pleasure during the holidays. Children aged between four and eleven can enrol for free at any Devon Library, and will be given special Animal Agents challenge packs, illustrated by the UK’s best-selling children’s illustrator Tony Ross.

This year, the Animal Agents are looking for help in solving a mysterious case, and children that join in with the fun will be given new clues each time they visit the Library to pick up new books, and will also receive special stickers and incentives along the way. On completing the challenge, all children will receive a special medal and certificate.

Ciara Eastell, Chief Executive of Libraries Unlimited said: “The Summer Reading Challenge is such an important initiative, and one that we love to celebrate and support throughout Devon Libraries. Reading is a key part of children’s learning, not only does it enhance their literacy levels, it can help to encourage empathy and creativity, improves concentration and can teach children about the world around them. The Summer Reading Challenge is a great opportunity to ensure that reading habits don’t drop off during the summer. It’s completely free, and children are supported and encouraged by our Library staff to ensure they find books that they love to read, in the hope that their reading continues long after the Challenge is over.”

Last year, 755,208 children across the UK took part in the Summer Reading Challenge, including 87,042 in the south west and more than 11,000 children in Devon. Libraries across Devon held a combined 262 events and more than 6,500 children attended events within Devon Libraries.

This year, every Library has events and activities lined up to encourage children to take part and complete the challenge. Library staff in all 50 of Devon’s Libraries will be on hand throughout the holidays to help recommend books and support young readers.

For full events listings, visit and see what’s on at your local Library.

Other events around the county include:

  • Okehampton Library will be holding a Summer Reading Challenge Launch on Saturday 15 July 9:00-13:00 with free giveaways (whilst stocks last) and lots of fun activities for children, as well as a family workshop with Learn Devon. Really Wild Learning will visit the Library on Wednesday 2 August 14:00-16:00 for a workshop, animal encounter, talk and activity. Throughout the summer there will be code breakers club where children use their code breaking skills to solve the mystery as well as an author visit from Olli Tooley and craft activities
  • Tavistock Library will be holding a chess club for over 7’s on Thursday mornings, there will be a Teddy Bear Sleepover on 31st July and a Teddy Bear Picnic on 1st August. Dartmoor Zoo will visit the Library on 4th August and author Olli Tooley will be visiting the Library on 24th July to talk about his new book For Cats’ Eyes Only
  • Exeter Library will be holding craft sessions on 31st July, 7th and 21st August and on 14th August there will be The Ugly Duckling and other tales free shadow puppetry workshops with Above Bounds Theatre Collective
  • At Teignmouth Library, snakes and reptiles from For Goodness Snakes will be visiting on Wednesday 9th August and there will be a gadgets and games craft event on Monday 21st August. At Buckfastleigh Library on Saturday 5th August, Clockwork Moth will perform the Jungle Book story followed by craft making  from 10.00am – 12.00pm
  • Dartmouth Library will be hosting a range of craft and storytime events and Salcombe Library has fingerprint crafts, sock puppets and storytelling sessions lined up. Ivybridge Library also has a range of fun family events and forensic science sessions
  • Crediton Library will be holding drama taster sessions on Wednesday 26th July, Author Olli Tooley will be talking about his book, For Cats’ Eyes Only, on Tuesday 1st August, and there will be 3D animal mask craft activity on Friday 4th August. In addition, on Wednesday 9th August children will have the opportunity to hold real animals while learning some interesting facts about them at the Mini Beasts event
  • Ottery St Mary Library will be hosting a ‘cops and robbers’ event on Monday 14thAugust and Friday 1st September and local author and illustrator Carolyn King will be at the Library on 19th August to read her latest book about a little bee who wants an adventure
  • Budleigh Salterton Library will have a visit from Armchair Theatre Puppets who will be presenting Burglar Bill on Wednesday 16th August from 2.30 to 3.30
  • Bideford Library, Appledore Library and Northam Library will all be holding a launch event on 15th July with Zoo Lab, giving children the chance to get up close and personal with some amazing animals, whilst Combe Martin Library will be launching with North Devon Bat Care
  • On 22nd July, Braunton Library will have crafts, Will the bubbleman, knit and natter stall, refreshments, lucky dip, face paints and much more and will hold craft sessions every Saturday throughout the holidays from 10:30 – 12:30
  • Ilfracombe Library have a range of events planned from Spy Kit Junk Modelling with local author Olli Tooley and making your own board games. Northam have a Lego animation workshop planned, whilst Holsworthy is offering crafts, puzzles and storytime. South Molton has a wide range of events including a visit from Exmoor Zoo and Bideford is holding a Super Sleuth agent disguise event among many others.

Libraries Unlimited believes…

…in the unlimited potential of library services to make a positive difference to people’s lives and communities through a shared love of reading and access to high quality information and facilities.