Ophelia Gartside puts the fun back into reading as she goes global with the third edition of the Little English Bookworm’s summer reading challenge.
Mother-of-two Ophelia Gartside’s love for books is infectious. After founding English book fair the Little English Bookworm in Luxembourg three years ago, she has inspired hundreds of young readers with the summer reading challenge.
This year, under the motto “Read around the world in 80 days,” she hopes to reach many more and not just within Luxembourg.
“I thought a nice idea would be if a child in Luxembourg joins up to do the challenge and involves a cousin or friend in the UK or US. Then you have children all over the world reading and doing the challenge,” Gartside told Delano. “It would be really interesting to see how far this goes and how many countries it goes to.”
She has also expanded the network of schools in which she organises her book fairs to include English-speaking schools in places such as Antwerp, Ghent and Dusseldorf, where children can also join the challenge.
Participating children have until 11 September to read 12 English language books from different categories listed on the challenge card, which can be downloaded. Categories range from stories about real-life heroes, to non-fiction, a book borrowed from a library and poetry. All readers who complete the reading challenge will receive a certificate in the autumn.
Participants are also urged to send in a photo of themselves reading in an unusual location, such as underwater reading, be it on their summer travels or at home, as part of an additional contest.
“The aim is to make it fun. Yes, you’ve got to do reading but it’s with a twist so it’s seen as a challenge,” said Gartside. She added that the reading material does not necessarily have to be a book, it can be an article or audio book, for instance.
A French-British national who built her career in corporate procurement, Gartside moved to Luxembourg in 2014 for her partner’s job. She set up the Little English Bookworm to offer a wider selection of books for children and value for money. Now, she hosts around 50 book fairs a year and said it was heartening to see how excited children are to discover the books she brings.
“Children have so many ideas, it’s been about giving them books that will feed that or challenge their thinking, especially as they get older,” the businesswoman said.