Keep up to date with all the latest news and events from Northumberland Libraries by reading our blog.

Summer Reading Challenge



What is the Summer Reading Challenge?

  • The Summer Reading Challenge is run by the charity The Reading Agency.
  • Every year there’s a different theme. This year’s theme is ‘The Big Friendly Read.  Libraries everywhere will be celebrating 100 years of the world’s greatest storyteller, Roald Dahl. The Big Friendly Read, Summer Reading Challenge 2016 will feature some of Roald Dahl’s best-loved characters and the amazing artwork of his principal illustrator, Sir Quentin Blake.
  • The aim of the challenge is to get children to sign up at their local library and read six books during the summer holidays by visiting the library three times.
  • The Summer Reading Challenge is aimed at children 4 – 11 years. Children can sign up at any Northumberland Library. It is completely free to sign up.

Enrolling Your Child

  • Children can sign up for the Summer Reading Challenge from 16 July until the 27 August.
  • The last date to complete the challenge is 10 September.
  • On joining, children will be given fun materials to get them started and additional incentives will be awarded as children progresses through the Challenge. Materials include stickers, bookmark, collector cards and rainbow glasses.
  • Children’s reading can ‘dip’ during the long summer holidays but the Summer Reading Challenge helps children to keep up their reading skills and confidence.
  • Under 4's can take part too!  They will be given a 'Pre-School Card' and will have to collect six stickers.  On the back of the card there are activities that under 4's can do with their parents or carers.
  • Materials for Children with Visual Impairment are available.  Please ask at your local library for more information.

Activities in Libraries

There will be lots of activities taking place in libraries over the summer. Craft events include making fox masks, wobbly crocodiles, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory door hangers and Mr Twit's beard. There will also be author and artist workshops, as part of the popular ‘Spellbound’ programme.

Visit our events calendar to find out what is happening. - Our Summer Reading Challenge events for July and August have been added! 

As well as events happening over the summer in lots of our libraries.  The following libraries will have drop-in colouring sheets and crafts available for children to do during their normal library opening hours:  Corbridge, Bellingham, Kielder, Heddon, Wylam, Ponteland, Amble, Alnwick, Guide Post. Seaton Valley and Bedlington Station.


What happens when my child has completed the Summer Reading Challenge?

  • Children who have completed the challenge will be invited to a special presentation in September and they will get a ‘gold’ medal and a special certificate.
  • All children who complete the challenge will also be entered into a prize draw to win chocolate heaven! Local chocolate makers’ ‘North Chocolate’ are sponsoring  a weekly bar of delicious luxury chocolate, for the lucky winner from October to December.
  • There will also be a school prize and that will be an Northern Children's Book Festival author visiting the winning school for a half day workshop. 

Visit the Summer Reading Challenge Website

The Summer Reading Challenge website allows your child to log the books they have read during the summer – and beyond. They can also find new books to read, recommended by other children, take part in competitions and play games.

Visit the website by clicking here:      


Photos © Dale Cherry 2016 for The Reading Agency. With thanks to Crawley Library, West Sussex County Council

Summer Reading Challenge Launch Event - 16 July

Big Friendly Read Launch ‘ Melva Mapletree and the Frothbuggling Forest’ inspired by Roald Dahl

02readlowSaturday 16 July 10.30am till 12.30pm

Join us at Morpeth Town Hall in the Corn Exchange Room for the launch of this year's Summer Reading Challenge. It will be a morning of fun, dressing up and cake inspired by our master storyteller Roald Dahl with a little help from 'Mortal Fools'.

Suitable for children aged 4-11 years & their families. Come dressed as your favourite Roald Dahl character and sign up for the Summer Reading Challenge. The first 25 children that register for this year's Challenge will receive a Roald Dahl goodie bag! There will also be a prize awarded to the child with the most imaginative character costume.

Activities include a performance of Melva Mapletree and the Frothbuggling Forest by Mortal Fools, digital storytelling, potions table, dressing-up box and refreshments.

Melva and the Frothbuggling Forest

Do you ever put your pen to your paper and that big brain of yours gets completely confuzzled and doesn’t let your imagination zoom , zip and run wild? This is called a Brain Bongle- and it happens to the very best of us...

In the dusty depths of Roald Dahl’s peculiarly precious vaults, lies a tattered and torn story. A story left forgotten about, a story left unfinished.

Melva Mapletree is like any other mischievous 6 year old; scattery, stubborn and as sweet as can be! She likes to explore her Grandmothers’ glorumptuos garden- but one day she explored further than the ‘stop’ sign by the tadpole pond and found herself in the middle of the forbidden Frothbugling Forest!

Stuffed with whoopsy wiffling characters, Melva meets The Acorn kids, St Sycamore the 3rd, Fizz Whizz the fox and many more creatures that show her the secrets of her Grandma’s garden. But...just as Melva reaches Wugbeat Waterfall, the story stops, pauses, halts.

Did Roald Dahl suffer a brain bongle? Or did he leave this story unfinished on purpose?

Come along and help Melva and her friends finish this story- I certainly think we need your help!

Summer Reading Challenge Volunteer Drop-In Sessions


Would you like to help younger children read over the summer?

Would you like to get some skills that will be great for your C.V., university application or Duke of Edinburgh Award assessment?

If you are aged between 14 and 25, then why not become your local library Summer Reading Challenge Volunteer?  

Roles available include:

  • To help staff to administer the Challenge
  • To talk to children about the books they’ve been reading.
  • To help children choose new books.
  • To help with summer activities
  • To help to create in-library displays
  • Helping children to use the Summer Reading Challenge website
  • Using activity sheets and other ideas to help children share their reading choices with their peers

Drop-In Sessions

To find out more about what is involved in volunteering drop in sessions are being held in Hexham, Prudhoe, Ashington and Blyth:

  • Hexham Library Monday 27 June at 3.45pm - 5.00pm
  • Ashington Library Wednesday 29 June at 5.15pm - 6.15pm
  • Prudhoe Library Wednesday 29 June at 3.45pm - 5.00pm
  • Blyth Library Thursday 30 June at 3.45pm - 5.00pm

For more infromation please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Photo Credit: 

Photos © Dale Cherry 2016 for The Reading Agency. With thanks to Crawley Library, West Sussex County Council

Celebrate National Bookstart Week with your library!

AHoleInTheBottomOfTheSeaNorthumberland Libraries will be celebrating National Bookstart Week 2016 which runs from 6-12 June with lots of great events.  See below for a full list of all our events.  The theme of this year’s National Bookstart Week is ‘Under the Sea’. Children who attend any of the events will receive a free copy of the picture book A Hole in the Bottom of the Sea by Jessica Law and illustrated by Jill McDonald. The reading charity BookTrust, supported by Barefoot Books, has more than 450,000 copies to give away.


National Bookstart Week is an annual celebration of BookTrust’s flagship reading programme, Bookstart, which gives every child in England and Wales a free reading pack in the first year of their life and again when they are 3-4 years old. The ethos of the charity is to remind families of the importance of reading for fun – even if it’s just for ten minutes a day.


 “Making time to read with your children is so important because shared reading leads to a love of reading. And we know that reading for pleasure has a dramatic impact on life outcomes – and this is as much about confidence and well-being as it is about educational achievements.

“Children who are read to every night start school a year ahead of those who are not and the gap only widens as they get older. Quite simply, children who read for pleasure are happier, healthier and do better in life than those who don't.”

Diana Gerald, Chief Executive of BookTrust

If families are unable to make it along to their local event they can join in the fun at home, with plenty of undersea-themed arts and crafts and games, all on the Bookstart website

Under the Sea Events

Come and join us for special 'Under the Sea' Story and Rhymetimes to celebrate National Bookstart Week at the following libraries listed below.  You don't need to book just turn up!  All events listed are suitable for children under 5 and their carers.

Tuesday 31 May:

nbw 2016 a4 poster final

Lynemouth Library at 2pm - 3pm

Tuesday 7 June

Ashington Library at 11am - 11.30am

Cramlington Library at 10am - 11am

Seaton Valley Library at 9.15am - 9.45am

Wednesday 8 June

Hexham Library at 10am - 10.45am

Thursday 9 June

Alnwick Library at 10am - 11am (In partnership with Alnwick Playhouse)

Friday 10 June

Berwick Library (The Swan Centre) at 11am - 1.30am

Blyth Library at 9.30am - 10am

Bedlington Library at 2.15pm - 2.45pm

Monday 13 June

Newbiggin Library at 10am - 11am


Make a Noise in Libraries Fortnight


From 6 - 19 June it is Make a Noise in Libraries Fortnight!  This annual campaign brings public libraries and blind and partially sighted people together in an effort to improve access to books and information.

In our libraries we have:

Large Print Books


Using a font of at least 16 points in size, large print titles are perfect for people who have poor vision.  Large print books can be borrowed for free in the same way as normal books.  It is free to reserve large print books from other Northumberland Libraries if your library does not have the one you want. 



Audiobooks, or spoken word books, are available in many titles for adults and children, on CD, tape and MP3 Playaway. They can be loaned for 3 weeks for free to library members who are partially sighted or blind.  We have qualified staff to help you and teach you how to use audiobooks.  Audiobooks are listed in the online catalogue as 'spoken word'.

Audiobook Groups

morpeth VIP group

Audio Book Groups for people who have a visual impairment or face barriers in reading printed books take place in a number of our libraries.  We currently have groups at:

  • Alnwick Library – meets on the fourth Thursday of the month from 2.15 - 3.30pm
  • Hexham Library – meets on the last Thursday of the month from 1.30 - 2.45pm
  • Morpeth Library – meets on the first Thursday of the month from 1.30 - 3pm
  • Ponteland Library – meets on the first Monday of the month from 10.30am - 12noon 


There are over 100 eAudiobooks available for download from our Oneclick Digital system. Find out what eAudiobooks are available.

Borrow up to 6 eAudiobooks for free.  When downloading eAudiobook you can select the amount of time you wish to borrow the item for ranging from 1 to 21 days. There are no overdue fees and if you finish early you can return it early!  Find out more information on eAudio.


Talking Books from the RNIB

The RNIB offers a Talking Books Service.  It is free to use and to be eligible to join the service you have to be a UK resident who is blind, partially sighted, or have an impairment that prevents or limits you from reading standard print.   They have 23,000  titles available by digital download to your favourite device through RNIB Overdrive, or on DAISY CD and USB stick, delivered direct to your door.  




Celebrate Elmer Day on 28 May and win a Elmer bag!

Elmer Day is a national celebration of popular children’s character Elmer the Patchwork Elephant.  So why not borrow a Elmer book to celebrate!  We have lots of different ones to choose from.  

elmertheelephant  Round Elmer Logo trunk smal

Elmer Day Events

A few of our libraries will be holding events to celebrate too!  Take a look below for more information:

Join us for Elmer themed stories, crafts and games. Children are welcome to dress up in their brightest clothes. Suitable for Families with children aged 2 – 7 years. No need to book - just turn up!

Tuesday 24 May at Seaton Valley Library 9.15am - 9.45am Please note this event is suitable for 0-4 years.

Friday 27 May at Seaton Valley Library 11.10am - 11.40am  Please note this event is suitable for 0-4 years.

Friday 27 May at Bedlington Library 2.15pm - 2.45pm Please note this event is suitable for 0-4 years.

Saturday 28 May at Hexham Library 10.30am - 11.30am  

Tuesday 31 May at Haydon Bridge Library 2.30pm - 3.30pm

There will also be colouring sheets and activity sheets available at Corbridge and Prudhoe Libraries on Saturday 28 May for drop in activities for children to do when in the library (available during normal opening hours).  At Berwick Library (The Swan Centre) on Saturday 28 May children who visit the library will be able to colour in a patch on the Elmer the patchwork elephant wall display.  At Ashington Library activity sheets and colouring sheets will also be available throughout the week, and children will get the chance to be creative and help decorate a paper collage  “Elmer”. 


20160511 151223

We are giving away two gorgeous Elmer tote bags to celebrate Elmer Day.  Send us an Elmer book themed photo on FacebookTwitter or email us it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for your chance to win!  Closing date for photos is 4 June.


Free Half-Term Workshops!

Spellbound Web Image


Spellbound are back this half-term with their enchanting storybook events! These fun free events are taking place around the County and we would love for you to join us. 


Crafty Chinese Brush Painting

Try your hand at the art of Chinese brush painting with splendid artist Chun-Chao Chiu and learn how to paint tremendously tall ships. A creative session for children aged 5+ and those who care for them.


Spectacular Stories of the Seven Seas 

Join Marvellous artist Michelle Wood who will show you how to create your very own exciting adventure book to take home. A creative session for children aged 5+ and those who care for them.


Chloe Daykin's Terrific Tall Ships

Shiver me timbers me hearties, come and make your own popup pirate ship complete with salty sea dogs, story book and hidden treasure. A creative session for children aged 5+ and those who care for them.


Advanced booking is advisable for all events.

How to avoid your items becoming overdue

Did you know library members can now choose email as their preferred notification method?


Our notifications will let you will receive an email reminder 3 days before your items are due for return so that you can bring them back or renew them before their due date.  It will also let you know when books are overdue and when your reservations are ready to collect.

You can also renew and reserve items online yourself with your library card and PIN. To find out how to renew online please visit our frequently asked questions.

If you would like to swap to email notification or want a PIN please ask a member of library staff or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Join Hexham Hackmonsters

We are… Hexham Hackmonsters!

And we are a group of reading hackers located at Hexham Library in the Queen’s Hall.

Our Interests include: Books, Creative writing and volunteering.  We have recently had a Creative Writing Workshop with local author Stevie Ronnie and we plan to have similar groups in future.

We plan to have a regular open meeting for people aged 12-18 who like reading and writing at Hexham Library.  The next meeting is on Wednesday 27 April at 4pm.

If you are interested, our group contact is Jackie White, you can usually contact her at Hexham library: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Happy Hacking!

These photos were taken at a creative writing workshop with local author Stevie Ronnie

Hexham Hackmonsters with Stevie Ronnie 19.3.16 Hexham Hackmonsters Creative Writing Workshop 19.3.16

About Reading Hack

Reading Hack is a programme led by young people aged 13 to 24 who do reading activities and volunteering, called hacks, to gain skills and experience. Visit our Reading Hack webpage to find out more.

Big North Book Run - Meet the Author

bignorthbookrunIn April a number of Pan Macmillan authors are attending libraries across the North East for a series of special author events.  

From the 21-23 April the Big North Book Run will take place with three great authors -Rita Bradshaw, Mari Hannah and Lucy Diamond each visiting a library in Northumberland.


ritabMeet Rita Bradshaw at Bedlington Library - 21 April at 7pm - 8pm

Born in Northamptonshire, where she still lives, Rita started her writing career with Mills & Boon before branching out into historical sagas. Now with 19 novels to her name, Rita is one of the country’s best-selling and most popular writers of historical fiction. Despite her Midlands background, several of her novels are set in the pit villages of the North East. We are delighted she is coming to Northumberland where she will talk about her life and career with her trademark warmth and friendliness.
Please contact Bedlington Library on Tel: 01670 622201 beforehand to book. Ticket price £2.50.
marihMeet Mari Hannah at Berwick Library (The Swan Centre) - 22 April at 2.30pm - 3.30pm
Mari is well known for her Kate Daniels crime novels.  Mari will talk about her choice of a new hero in 'The Silent Room' and what it is like to have your work adapted for TV.  
This event is also part of our World Book Night celebrations so please bring a book to swap with other participants as part of World Book Night.
Please contact Berwick library on Tel: 01670 626099 beforehand to book. Ticket price £2.50.  This event will be taking place at The Swan Centre, the temporary home of Berwick Library.
lucydMeet Lucy Diamond at Ashington Library - 23 April at 2pm -3pm
A Girls' Afternoon Out with Lucy Diamond, author of the popular 'Beach Cafe ' Series.  Although Lucy started out writing children’s fiction (and still does), her Beach Café series propelled her into the bestseller charts and earned her the title ‘queen of summer reading’. If you enjoy Sophie Kinsella or Milly Johnson, then Lucy’s brand of contemporary women’s fiction will appeal.
Come and hear Lucy talk about her work, buy a book and enjoy cupcakes and bubbly.
Please contact Ashington Library on 01670 622262 beforehand to book. Ticket price £2.50