This summer thousands young people took part in the Summer Reading Challenge as volunteers, helping librarians to run the project and organising events and games tied to this year's Summer Reading Challenge StoryLab theme.
We asked our amazing volunteers to act as StoryLab reporters and write about their experiences, sharing their stories, book reviews and top tips for running library events. Here are some of our favorite responses from our StoryLab reporters:
Aparajita helped with the Summer Reading Challenge at Bury Park Library in Luton: "I wish I had taken part in events like these when I was a child. If I had had more access to libraries in my country growing up then I am sure that I would have acquired the habit of reading much earlier."
South Tyneside's Katharine kept readers inspired with an Olympics-themed Lego challenge - "The Lego challenge involved the children using their creativity and imagination to build anything to do with the Olympics. The children started to talk about their ideas and build off each other. Some made an Olympic pool or a fencing arena. The children all worked together to produce an interesting display of events."
Lisa from Laindon Library in Essex thinks that volunteering will help her future career: "I also believe that this is a great opportunity for me to develop skills in interacting with and inspiring children to try their best and always believe that they can achieve. This will in turn benefit me in my chosen future career as an Educational Psychologist."
Abi from Rickmansworth Library enjoyed the fact that her volunteering benefited herself and others: "I have had a splendid time volunteering for the Summer Reading Challenge. I have been able to help children grow in confidence personally and mentally which is something I feel is very important."
Billericay Library's Alex has been a Summer Reading Challenge Volunteer for the past three years, but still enjoys it: "I am still driven by the change we can make to a young person's life as they progress through life and learn more about the world around them."
Volunteering brightened up Katie from Redhill's summer: "Walking out of the library after two hours of helping, the sun had finally shown his face, just in time for the Olympics! I really felt like I was doing something useful and helpful with my spare time, and it was inspiring to see some of the very young kids, many of just four years old, reading books so eagerly."
In Northumberland Heather encouraged young readers by celebrating their hard work with a Wall of Fame: "As they continue up the stages they move their picture along so they can visually see their progress. We thought this was a good form of accreditation which keeps the children interested and motivated in the challenge and we have had an excellent response so far."
Our star StoryLab reporter
We received many great StoryLab reporters articles from our volunteers, but special recognition has to go to Autumn from South Tyneside whose article cheered, inspired and tickled us enough to earn her the title of star StoryLab reporter.
Local Authority: South Tyneside Council
Library where I am volunteering: South Tyneside Central Library
Favourite Book: Wilkie Collins - The Woman in White
Best thing about volunteering with StoryLab: The best thing about volunteering with StoryLab is how I, and the children involved, get to spend the summer doing something productive, fun and enjoyable.
Forget London 2012, the real sporting event of the summer was the Story Lab Summer Reading Challenge sports day!
On August 10th 2012, South Tyneside Central Library opened its doors to a flock of young athletes poised for an afternoon of fun-filled sporting events. Excited laughter and broad smiles filled the room as our competitors divided themselves into teams, with one youngster exclaiming 'I'm going for gold!'. After a quick snapshot of the Red, Green and Yellow teams together, we were ready. Let the games begin!
First up of the seven events was the hockey slalom. Despite a few stray balls, our competitors demonstrated excellent control whilst weaving the balls through the cones and the race proved to be a close call.
Next up was target practice, and after a cautionary 'Watch my head!' from Catrin our target holder, our athletes were off. Many ended up scoring the maximum six points and I'm pleased to say Catrin remained unharmed!
Our third, and possibly most impressive, event was the hula hooping challenge. All of the competitors gave a valiant effort but the real star of the show was one Yellow team member who racked up an impressive 81 rotations! That has got to be a world record!
Up next was the classic egg and spoon race, which proved to be a favourite with our contestants. However, it's a good job we didn't use real eggs or there would have been a lot of mess to clear up!
The fifth event, the beanbag on head race, was another favourite, with all of our athletes completing the course in a super quick time. Usain Bolt eat your heart out!
Next was the skipping event. After sorting out a slight technical difficulty (tangled skips), our participants put in excellent performances, making this another difficult event to judge.
The final event of the afternoon was the ring toss. Being the final event, and the last opportunity to score points for their team, a lot of pressure was placed on our athletes to deliver. And deliver they did, each performing to the best of their abilities.
With the games over, it was time to count up the scores and determine our winners. A nervous air surrounded the athletes as we waited for the independent adjudicator to tot up the points. A loud cheer resounded as the Red team were announced as our gold medal winners, closely followed by the Yellow team in the silver medal position, and the Green team with bronze.
The medal ceremony followed, and the nervous air was replaced by pride and happiness. Regardless of the colour of their medals, our competitors displayed excellent sportsmanship, clapping and congratulating each other as they were presented with their medals.
Overall, the sports day was a huge success and will no doubt be a highlight of the StoryLab Summer Reading Challenge for many. And you never know, we could see some of our participants compete at the next Olympics. Rio 2016 better prepare themselves!
There are lots of volunteering opportunities for young people available in libraries and we are now co-ordinating the ideas that librarians have for getting young people volunteering in libraries through the Youth Innovation Network.
To get involved or find out more about volunteering please contact Claire Styles.