AS THE kids count down the days to schools out, parents start to worry about fending off those cries of "I'm bored".
Thankfully, NI Libraries have once again come to the rescue with their annual Big Summer Read. The annual reading initiative is a free programme which encourages children and teens, aged 15 and under to continue reading throughout the summer months.
Educational, fun activities is an important feature of the initiative with events and workshops including Storytime and Crafts, Lego, Teddy Bears Picnic and Everyday First Aid running in libraries across Northern Ireland throughout July and August.
A reading chart and record card will be given to every child on their first visit to the library during July and August. Throughout the summer, children are invited to read as many books as possible recording each book on their reading chart. At the end of the summer, participants will receive a special certificate in recognition of their reading achievement.
"Throughout the summer months it is essential to provide children with access to reading in a fun and relaxed way," says Libraries NI chief executive Jim O’Hagan.
"Reading for pleasure has many educational benefits with the Big Summer Read being a great way to address the 'summer slide', a decline in reading activity that can occur when schools are closed.
"Children who read throughout the summer are better prepared when they return to school in September. Libraries are an excellent free resource for families to have access to books of a wide range of interests and reading levels.
"The Big Summer Read and all associated events are free to take part in and is a great way to keep children and teens entertained during the holidays while encouraging them to read."
Former Q Radio presenter and dad-of-two Stephen Clements helped launch the Big Summer Read by hosting a special Storytime event in Bangor Carnegie Library reading the children some of his favourite stories.
"I absolutely loved reading to the kids as part of the Big Summer Read," enthuses Clements.
"It’s so much fun watching how they get completely engrossed in the stories. My two kids Poppy and Robbie love reading and are members of our local library, we will definitely be taking part in the Big Summer Read."
:: For more information on the Big Summer Read, details of free activities and how you can sign up, call into a local library or visit Librariesni.org.uk, where you will also find fun activities and puzzles to download.