WHAT better way to celebrate this Valentine’s Day than 25 books children and young people in Wales love!

Today public libraries in Wales and The Reading Agency are announcing their Winter of Wellbeing shortlist, a collection of 25 brilliant books nominated by children and young people across Wales for their power to make them feel better, more connected and more understood.

This exciting strand of the cross-sector Winter of Wellbeing campaign running across Wales launched last month with a call to action to discover children and young people’s favourite reads after a difficult two years during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Eloise Williams

Children and young people across Wales responded in their droves and the list of 25 books has now been published. Among those on the list are award winning Welsh authors like popular Pembrokeshire-based children’s author, Eloise Williams and English teacher Huw Davies from Carmarthen.

Eloise Williams, winner of the Wolverhampton Children’s Book Award 2020, Wales Arts Review Young People’s Book of the Year 2020 and shortlisted for the Wales Book of the Year 2021 children’s novel Seaglass is featured, an atmospheric ghost story set on the salty, windswept Welsh coast.

Eloise, also Wales’s inaugural Children’s Laureate (2019-21) said, “The Winter of Wellbeing is a wonderful campaign. It’s so important to show our children and young people how powerful books can be and how to find them in our libraries.

“It is wonderful to be included in this list of feel-good reads, it’s the icing on the cake after being part of the first Winter of Wellbeing online events last week.”

Seaglass – Eloise Williams

Huw Davies’s book Scrambled, available in Welsh too Sgramblo, is about a fourteen year old boy living with his Dad after his mother died, who finds a new passion for motorcycling, to the horror of his teachers. Huw added, “As an English teacher, I came to realise that there was a lack of what I called ‘daft books for boys’, and so I started work on Scrambled. I am landed that my book has reached the list of 25 of feel-good reads – it is wonderful news that it helps young people pick up a book and feel inspired.”

Supported by the Welsh Government, the Winter of Wellbeing campaign aims to help children and young people recover from the pandemic, and is working its magic in counties across Wales.

Public libraries have teamed up with The Reading Agency for this seasonal celebration of reading, the benefits it promotes and the power of local libraries to help children reconnect with each other and their community. It will continue through to the end of March with a programme of activities and events delivered online and in libraries.

Talking about the campaign, Nicola Pitman chair of the Society of Chief Librarians Cymru and library lead said, “Something magical happens when you read and we’re here, this winter, to share, shout about and celebrate the way that magic works and the places it can lead you.

Huw Davies

“We hope the booklist can be a starting block for young people, to inspire and encourage them to visit their libraries and pick up a book and – while they’re there – to enjoy a whole mix of activities and events that can connect them to each other and their community. Libraries up and down Wales have a brilliant mix of events lined up – not only story time groups, but mindfulness sessions and quiz nights for teens, creative writing classes for young adults, rhyme and sign groups for babies and toddlers and botanic fairy-garden workshops and terrarium sessions for families. The list is long and varied!

“Plus, of course, we have some fantastic national events online, which kicked off last week welcoming authors Eloise Williams, Sarah KilBride, Manon Steffan Ros and Children’s Laureate Wales Connor Allen and Bardd Plant Cymru Casi Wyn. There are plenty more to come in March, all free and bookable on the website.”

Other Welsh authors who made it onto the shortlist included Horatio Clare, Alex Wharton, Eloise Williams and Huw Davies. “We are blessed in Wales to have many great writers,” adds Nicola. “Each book on the list can be found at your local library, so what are you waiting for, go and visit yours and try one of the books.”

Scrambled – Huw Davies

Karen Napier, CEO, The Reading Agency said, “We’re delighted to announce this fantastic, crowdsourced booklist as part of the Winter of Wellbeing, the Welsh Government’s excellent initiative connecting children and young people to each other and their community through the power of reading. We really hope that these books and authors help people to feel better this winter as we continue to emerge from the pandemic and want to thank everyone who nominated a book!”

For the full list of feel-good page turners for children and young people, links to watch recent events and information of everything taking place until the end of March go to https://winterofwellbeing.readingagency.org.uk/