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Myths and legends of the south west explored as Summer Reading Challenge returns

  • Date: 10 July 2014
  • Area: South West
Illustration of Giant's feet by a small tree

The Giant's Story, Big Dance in the SW, 2014. Credit: Courtsey of Somerset Film

The Summer Reading Challenge is the UK's biggest annual free reading project for children aged four to eleven and runs in nearly every library in the UK throughout the summer holidays. Youngsters in the south west are set to discover their local history through a thoroughly interactive programme of dance events, sharing of stories and digital activity from 12 July to 13 September.

The Summer Reading Challenge is coordinated by the public library network and Arts Council England National portfolio organisation, The Reading Agency - whose mission is to give everyone an equal chance in life, by helping people become confident and enthusiastic readers.  

The summer initiative invites children of all abilities to read six books borrowed from a library during the long summer holiday, encouraged by rewards and activities along the way and a medal and certificate at the end. The challenge bridges the gap between school terms, keeping the reading spark alive.

There is a different theme each year with 2014's theme being Mythical Maze. In the south west Step into a Book have developed The Giant's Story, a programme based on the six original counties that made up the south west region. Through such characters as the Cornish Knockers and The Giants of Stone Henge to Devon's Hairy Hands and Dorset's Mermaids, children will enjoy a range of activities, inspiring them to read.

The Giant's Story brings together myths and legends from the region, dance, film and digital technologies, including augmented reality and 'gaming' and will see events taking place in libraries in Bristol, Devon, Dorset and South Gloucestershire.

The programme of dance events in libraries follows the success of the Creepy House dance tour last year, where 50% of the children watching the dance events in their library had never seen a dance show before. The launch of Summer Reading Challenge on 12 July coincides with The Big Dance Weekend - 12 to 13 July - and The Giant's Story will be reaching far and wide with themed dance events in eleven libraries right across the south west region, from Falmouth in the west to Havant in the east. See the full programme of events here.

Step into a Book, the brains behind The Giant's Story, is a partnership comprising Arts Council England National portfolio organisation Pavilion Dance South West; Bridge organisation RIO; South West Association of Senior Children's & Education Librarians and the Society of Chief Librarians South West. The range and depth of interactive activities is made possible by their collaboration with Somerset Film and Second Hand Dance

Zannah Doan, Regional Producer, Pavilion Dance South West said: 'Dance, digital arts and reading - a great combination to engage young readers through kinaesthetic and interactive arts. Some programmes just come together at the right time and this is one of them - all the partners have shown real generosity of spirit and creativity to create the best possible work to complement this year's national SRC theme of Mythical Maze. And of course the SW has amazing myths to give us the stories to tell. This is pioneering work for us all involving live and filmed dance, a digital game, a poster that comes to life and a website - we really hope that children and families enjoy and learn from it and go away to read more library books and get their SRC certificate.'

Sue Laurence, Chair of the Society of Chief Librarians South West, said: 'Every summer children enjoy participating in the national Summer Reading Challenge run by The Reading Agency and delivered in libraries. Working in partnership with Pavilion Dance South West, libraries in the region are encouraging children to enjoy reading and to engage in dance. These activities will contribute towards their health and wellbeing.'

Phil Gibby, Area Director, South West, Arts Council England said: 'This is a wonderful national initiative, well complemented by a range of locally inspired events and activities in the region. The value of libraries as a cultural and community hub will be further established by this exciting programme that all the family can enjoy.' 

Join in with The Summer Reading Challenge here

Find out more about events in the south west here

Volunteer to help with The Summer Reading Challenge here