Bradford Libraries Rhyme Challenge Report 2018-19

Did you know?

  • Over 4,260 children and 3,500 adults took part in the Bradford Libraries Rhyme Challenge.
  • 300 Rhyme Packs were sent out to settings and libraries across the district.
  • “The Rhyme Challenge has brought a new love of rhyme to my child.  She now tries to rhyme anything and everything.  She is teaching the whole family” – Bradford Parent
  • “My child loves the library rhymetime” – Bradford Parent

What is the Bradford Libraries Rhyme Challenge?

The Bradford Libraries Rhyme Challenge takes place each year in libraries, voluntary settings and maintained/non-maintained childcare settings.  September – March.

The challenge is simple.

We ask settings/libraries to encourage parents to learn 5 rhymes with their child and receive a certificate to say they have completed the challenge.

Childcare settings, toddler groups and libraries all take on the challenge in different ways.  Some have a set programme to learn the rhymes over 5 weeks with a special celebration at the end, others have simply taken the challenge head on and asked parents and carers to learn the rhymes over a shorter period of time.  They then sing the rhymes together to receive the certificates.

It does not matter which way the challenge is carried out.  The aim is to ensure that parents, carers and children have fun! 

The rhymes this year included:

Twinkle Twinkle Library

Five Little Speckled Frogs

Jack In A Box

One Finger, One Thumb

Frere Jacques (French version)


Why Bradford Libraries oversee the challenge

The evidence is clear that great rhymers make great readers1 and as a library service with an aim to develop our early years audience the Rhyme Challenge helps in many ways to promote the services we provide and encourage children on their life long reading journey.

The challenge also aims to work towards improving the proportion of children achieving a Good Level of Development in Bradford. 

Outlined below is how the Rhyme Challenge links to the curriculum outcomes of the Early Years Foundation Stage.

Rhyme Challenge Areas of Learning England – Early Years Foundation Stage   Communication & Language: Singing, listening and sharing rhymes.   Communication and Language Literacy: Learning rhyming sounds to aid future literacy. Literacy Maths: Counting rhymes Mathematics Being creative: Expressing ideas and sharing feelings through music, movement, role play and design technology.   Expressive Arts and Design Feeling good: Developing a positive sense of themselves, doing things which help build confidence.   Personal, Social and Emotional Development Finding out: Discovering and making sense of the world. Finding out about people and animals as well as different cultures and places.     Understanding the World Let’s move: Being active and interactive, developing co-ordination, control and movement. Physical Development    

The challenge also supports practitioners and library staff become more aware of the value of providing a language rich environment to promote the development of children’s communication and language skills.3

Best practice when completing the challenge sees libraries and settings working with families to learn all five rhymes and receive the certificate.  Research consistently highlights that families are the most important influence in a child’s early development and prevention and early intervention to support families is crucial for good health and social care outcomes by the age of 5.4

Finally, experts in literacy and child development have discovered that if a child knows 8 nursery rhymes by heart by the time they are 4 they are usually among the best readers by the time they are 8.5


1 The benefit of Rhymes – Research review from Booktrust

2Public Health Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (Bradford)

3Bradford Libraries Rhyme Challenge Report 2016-17

(available on request)

4Marmot (2010) Fair Society, Healthy Lives –Strategic review health inequalities in England post-2010

5Mem Fox: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever.  Harcourt, 2001


Group Leader Feedback

“The Rhyme Challenge has given us a focus.”

100% of group leaders said that the Rhyme Challenge was beneficial to the families they work with.

Many of the groups involved provided feedback on how they had enhanced the challenge in their settings.  This took many forms including:

Props                                                                           Sent copies of rhymes home

Frog puppets                                                             Celebration event

Displays                                                                       Bookstart Bear visit

Joined in with senior citizen club                           Parents at Play session

New cosy book area                                                    French bistro

Accompanied on the piano                                        Dress up

French visitor taught rhymes                                    Messy play

Special assembly                                                          Used instruments

Made zigzag books                                                       Accompanied on guitar

Bubbles                                                                        Parachutes

Playdough                                                                    Ball pool

Sign language                                                               Imaginative play

96% of group leaders thought that parents/carers and children now joined in more with rhymes after the rhyme challenge.

89% of group leaders thought that the challenge had increased their knowledge of the value of providing a language rich environment to promote the development of children’s communication and language skills.

Individual Parental Feedback

As you can see from the chart below 97% of parents who responded said they sing rhymes more since the introduction of the new rhyme challenge.  97% of respondents also thought that the challenge had increased their awareness of the benefits of sharing rhymes with very young children.  94% of parents said that the challenge had increased their child’s speech and language skills.

Parents also told us that they feel more confident to sing rhymes with their children after taking the rhyme challenge (96% of respondents).

Bradford Libraries Rhyme Challenge Awards


Best practice awards for staff and practitioners. 

Criteria for judging panel can include:

An individual, group, centre, library or nursery that has:

  • introduced a new element into the challenge
  • worked to ensure library membership for the families taking part in the challenge
  • developed crafts to enhance the challenge
  • completed feedback forms
  • planned activities around the rhymes

This was not an exhaustive list and nominations could be made for a variety of reasons.

The nominees are:

Bradford Libraries Rhyme Challenge Best Practice Individual Award

Maddie Coelho – Burley Library

Rachael Dennis – National Childbirth Trust

Rachel Parker – Senior Social Worker, Catholic Care

Bradford Libraries Rhyme Challenge Best Practice Library Award

Baildon Library

Bingley Library

Burley Library

City Library

Clayton Hybrid Library

Eccleshill Library

Holme Wood Library

Idle Library

Ilkley Library

Keighley Library

Laisterdyke Library

Thornton Community Library

Bradford Libraries Rhyme Challenge Best Practice Voluntary Sector Award

Bingley Baptist Toddlers

Dixons Marchbank Stay & Play

Keighley Catholic Care Centre

Little Ducklings Playgroup

National Childbirth Trust

St Andrews See and Know Toddler Group

St John’s Playgroup Baildon

St Joseph’s Catholic Primary Stay & Play with Catholic Care

Bradford Libraries Rhyme Challenge Best Practice Childcare Setting Award

Alison Mazacs – Childminder

Ashfield Day Nursery

Bramble Hedge Pre-School

Cottingley Pre-School

Karmand Community Centre Nursery

Lapage Primary Nursery

Lilycroft Nursery School

Long Lee Primary Nursery

Netherleigh & Rossefield Nursery School
Nightingales Day Nursery

Pied Piper Pre-School

St Joseph’s Catholic Primary Nursery & Reception

St Matthews CE Primary Nursery

Sandal Primary Nursery

Summerfield Children’s Place Nursery & Amazing Grace Luncheon Club

Bradford Libraries Rhyme Challenge Best Practice Children’s Centre Award

South Bradford Children’s Centre Cluster

Winners and runners up will be announced at the Rhyme Challenge awards ceremony – 9 July 2019.


Case Studies

Case Study One: Primary School Stay & Play

We have really enjoyed the different activities set up around the rhymes.  Many of our children are very young when they join and it is amazing to see their progress as they develop an understanding of focus, sharing and listening.  They Rhyme Challenge has helped in the development of speech, learning numbers, colours, shapes, sizes, animal names and family.

One of our activities included using green and yellow playdough and showing the children how to make little playdough frogs to go on the log.  We followed up this activitiy by everyone singing the “five little frogs” rhyme.  We used the “one finger, one thumb keeps moving” to get the mums and toddlers up and active.  We made finger puppets as a table activity to introduce the rhyme.  We linked rhyme time to the “50 Things Bradford” which we also promote in school.

It was a wonderful surprise to have Bookstart Bear come and visit us earlier this year.  Followed by the story time sessions at Laisterdyke Library.  Thank you to Laisterdyke Library for having us and to the staff for making the story time sessions so fun.  Library sessions with their toddlers was a first time experience for most of our mums as they were not aware of how much was available for their children at their local library.  We got all of our children signed up and our school too.  This means we can now borrow picture books and set up a little library at the stay and play sessions.

Our school’s focus is on reading for children, for adults, for education and especially for fun.  We have succeeded in showing parents how you can switch off the TV, table or phone and sit with your child to enjoy a book together.  The interaction between a parent and child sharing an activity beats all digital experiences at this young age. 

Case Study Two: Community Library

An additional new rhymetime was launched at the library to coincide with the start of the Rhyme Challenge.

The Rhyme Challenge was delivered twice a week over the four week period at both the regular  session and at the new session on a Thursday.  The Tuesday session was an hour long and incorporated the Rhyme Challenge rhymes, a story and complimentary craft.  The new session was launched on Week 1 of the Rhyme Challenge.  This was due to the overwhelming (as many as 40 children per week) popularity of our Tuesday session.  It is a shorter session of 30 minutes and consists of rhymes only and is targeted at the under 2 age group.  Over the four weeks, a total of 119 children and 85 adults attended on a Tuesday and 47 children and 41 adults attended on a Thursday.  Both sessions now continue term time only.

We encourage all members of the family to join the library and have their own ticket.  We stress the fact that it’s best to take children’s books out on a child’s ticket to avoid late fines.  Parents/carers often express surprise that babies can join the library – even newborns!  The youngest new joiner we have ever had was about two weeks old.  We advertised the Rhyme Challenge on our website, Facebook page and on posters inside/outside the library.

Comment from parents “Love this group!”

Report compiled by Bradford Libraries Early Years Development June 2019

Library Activities in July

Art in the Library – Paper Clay Texture Workshop

Keighley Library
Saturday 6th July 10am – 2pm Explore texture and shape using air drying paper clay.
Have a go at colouring techniques.
Make simple tiles, hangings, jewellery or just have a play.
No experience necessary.
For adults (16+).
Bring a packed lunch.
All materials provided.
£20 Pay on the day To book
Or email

Poem to Publication. Day Workshop with Mark Connors

Keighley Library
Saturday 20th July 10am – 4pm A day workshop/seminar in which participants will bring in one poem to be worked on in a participant led feedback seminar. We will also look at recent examples of published poetry via selected texts.

In the afternoon, there will be writing exercises to inspire your next poems and a Q & A session with the tutor, an award winning poet and managing editor of a local poetry publisher, where you can grill him on all aspects of poetry, from writing to getting your work into print in magazines, webzines and anthologies.

£10 pay on the day. To book
Or email

Chapter 1 Day Workshop – How to Plan and Start Writing a Novel

Shipley Library
Saturday 27th July 10am – 4pm A day workshop focusing on how to plan and start writing a novel. We will look at character, plot and setting via selected texts and put pen to paper with writing exercises to help formulate ideas or expand on ideas you may already have.

The aim of this workshop is to get our first chapters up and running. And the really tricky bit….to keep going. We will also look at how not to write our novels to avoid the trapdoors that many first time novelists fall through.

There will also be a Q & A session with the course tutor, a published and critically acclaimed novelist, where participants can ask about all aspects of writing a novel, seeking publication and beyond.

This course is designed for both aspiring novelists and those who’ve never managed to complete their ambitious projects. £10 pay on the day To book
Or email

John Clare’s Birthday Party

Keighley Library
Saturday 13th July 6pm Join us in Keighley Local Studies Library for a celebration of Poet John Clare’s birthday and the end of our project ‘The Meeting – Reading and Writing through John Clare’.

This project was created to mark the 200th anniversary of Clare’s most remarkable year by forging a new set of ‘meetings’ of Clare with new writers in the shape of poetry workshops. This project is part of a national scheme funded by Oxford Brookes University and created by Prof Simon Kovesi.

This celebratory event will involve the reading of John Clare poems, readings from poet Sarah Corbett and also poems inspired by the work of John Clare written and read by project participants. Free entry but please book.
All welcome.
Refreshments served. To book
Or email

Bingley Writers Group

Bingley writers group are looking for new members. They meet in Bingley Library once a month on a Monday afternoon at 2pm. The next meeting will be 8th July. If you are interested in joining the group please email

Creative Writing Courses at Bradford Libraries

Learn about different writing styles and genre through weekly exercises.

This course will lead you through the essentials of the craft, including characterization, plotting, description, dialogue and editing.

There will also be the chance to explore publishing opportunities and share your own writing and receive feedback.

Beginners and more experienced writers welcome. 10 week course. For adults (18+)

Ilkley Library
Friday 4.30 – 6.30pm
Start date 19th July
Tutor Steve O’Connor

City Library
Saturday 10am – 12pm
Start date 20th July
Tutor Steve O’Connor

Beginners Creative writing course

Shipley Library 6 – 8pm
Start date 16th July
Tutor Steve O’Connor.
For adults (18+) To book
Or email

Refugee Week 15th – 23rd June 2019

Come and join Bradford Libraries during Refugee Week at their welcoming storytime and craft making activity for children and families.  Lily and the Polar Bears is a charming, funny, sweet picture book combining concerns about arctic erosion, animal conservation and immigration in a lovely story about polar bears. Come along to hear the story and make a fun polar bear craft.

  • Keighley Library                                   Weds 12 June       11am – 11.45pm
  • Burley Library                                       Tues 18 June         1.45pm
  • Ilkley Library                                         Weds 19 June       10.15am
  • Bingley Library                                     Thurs 20 June       10am
  • Menston Library                                  Thurs 20 June       3.30pm
  • Wyke Library                                        Fri 21 June            2pm
  • Queensbury Library                            Sat 22 June            10.30am
  • City Library                                            Sat 22 June            11am

Pyjamarama Activities

Have you got an under five who loves transport?

Come along to our activities between 31 May and 7 June to celebrate Bookstart, the UK’s first free book-gifting scheme.

We will be giving away free copies of the book Car, Car, Truck, Jeep by Katrina Charman and Nick Sharratt.

There are some great events coming up with stories to be told, giant cars to decorate and crafty car key rings to make. We’ll also have some interactive drama based workshops for young children and parents together. Watch out for these with Pyjama Drama.

All events are free. No need to book, just turn up!

  • Shipley Library, Friday 31 May, 10am, Pyjama Drama interactive session
  • Ilkley Library, Friday 31 May, 1pm, Pyjama Drama interactive session
  • Baildon Library, Saturday 1 June, 10am, Pyjama Drama interactive session
  • Manningham Library, Saturday 1 June, 10am, Pyjama Drama interactive session
  • Wrose Library, Saturday 1 June, 10am to 12noon, Car Car Truck Jeep storytime and crafts
  • Eccleshill Library, Monday 3 June, 2pm to 2.45pm, Car Car Truck Jeep storytime and crafts
  • Bingley Library, Tuesday 4 June, 10.30am, Car Car Truck Jeep storytime and crafts
  • Burley Library, Tuesday 4 June, 1.45pm, Car Car Truck Jeep storytime and crafts
  • Thornton Library, Wednesday 5 June, 11am to 12 noon, Car Car Truck Jeep storytime and crafts
  • Heaton Hub Library, Thursday 6 June, 10am to 12 noon, Transport stories, craft and messy play
  • Bingley Library, Thursday 6 June, 10am, Car Car Truck Jeep storytime and crafts
  • Clayton Library, Thursday 6 June, 10am, Car Car Truck Jeep storytime and crafts
  • Silsden Library, Thursday 6 June, 1.30pm, Car Car Truck Jeep storytime and crafts
  • City Library, Thursday 6 June, 2pm, Car Car Truck Jeep storytime and crafts
  • Wyke Library, Friday 7 June, 2pm, Car Car Truck Jeep storytime and crafts
  • Laisterdyke Library, Saturday 8 June, 10.30am to 11.30am, Stories and lollipop car crafts
  • Keighley Library, Saturday 8 June, 11am to 11.45am, Car Car Truck Jeep storytime and crafts

Children’s Centres and Family Hubs

  • Rainbow Children’s Centre, Monday 3 June, 9.30am to 11am, Transport themed play and learn
  • Menston Children’s Centre, Tuesday 4 June, 9.30am to 11am, Transport themed play and learn
  • Daisy Chain Children’s Centre, Tuesday 4 June, 9.30am to 11am, Transport themed play and learn
  • Hirst Wood Children’s Centre, Tuesday 4 June, 9.30am to 10.45am, Transport themed play and learn
  • Owlet Children’s Centre, Thursday 5 June, 9.15am to 10.45am, Transport themed play and learn
  • Low Fold Children’s Centre, Friday 6 June, 9.15am to 10.45am, Transport themed play and learn
  • Trinity 5 Rise Children’s Centre, Friday 6 June, 9.15am to 10.45am, Transport themed play and learn

Bookstart Bear

Monday 3 June 12 noon to 3pm

Broadway – Bookstart Bear and team will be in the Broadway Centre telling stories and gifting books.

Thursday 6 June – Bookstart Bear Tour

  • Bingley Library – 10am
  • Heaton Hub – 11am
  • City Library – 2pm

A NEW project has been started in deprived areas of the Bradford district to encourage parents to be more engaged in their children’s learning.

Parent currently studying English Classes at Knowleswood Primary School gets involved to inspire her child to learn.  Family Learning and Adult Skills attended this event at St. Christopher’s Church on the 24th April to promote courses available in the community in partnership with the Literacy Trust.

Source: Telegraph and Argus, 30/04/19 :

A NEW project has been started in deprived areas of the Bradford district to encourage parents to be more engaged in their children’s learning.
The Inspiring Parents scheme has been created by Bradford Stories, a campaign run by the National Literacy Trust’s Bradford Hub, and funded by the Bradford Opportunity Area.
It aims to improve literacy attainment for a children aged nine to 11 by supporting parents to be more involved in their learning at school and at home.
It comes as last year almost a third of children in Bradford – 29 per cent – left primary school unable to read at the expected level for their age.

Research has shown when parents and carers take an active role in their children’s education it can transform their chances of success at school and beyond.
To launch the new scheme, two fun-filled family events were held in Bradford and Keighley last week to engage families in the project.
One was held at St Christopher’s Church in Holme Wood, and the other at Central Hall in Keighley. Activities at the events for families included designing their own comic strips and creating their own newspaper front pages to celebrate stories from their community.
All of the activities were examples of creative ways parents can help develop their children’s reading and writing skills at home.
Children’s author James Nicol was also on hand to lead storytelling sessions and hand free books out for families to take and read at home.
The Bowling, Keighley and Tong areas have been chosen as they have some of the most deprived areas in the district and the programme will operate in selected schools in those areas to promote positive parent-school relationships and raise awareness of the impact of parental engagement at home on their child’s learning.
It will be run by parent volunteers – known as Parent Champions – from the local community who are best placed to understand and help overcome the challenges faced by families in those areas.

Each volunteer will lead a six-week programme of literacy-themed activities with groups of parents, which will be tailored to the specific families and their needs, and will range from school coffee mornings, family reading groups, and creative activities to do at home.
These activities will help parents understand the importance of supporting their child’s learning and give them ideas and suggestions for ways to continue their child’s learning at home.
Imran Hafeez, Inspiring Parents lead and manager of Bradford Stories, said: “Parents and guardians play such an important role in their children’s learning and outcomes.
“Their engagement is a more powerful force for academic success than other family background such as social class, family size, and level of parental education.

“We want to get more parents positively engaging in their children’s learning and give them the confidence to know that their involvement is invaluable to their child’s happiness and later success.”
Bradford is one of a dozen areas in England chosen by the Department for Education as an Opportunity area, meaning the district benefits from increased funding to improve social mobility and unlock the potential of England’s young people through education.
Anne-Marie Canning, independent chair of Bradford Opportunity Area Partnership Board, added: “The Bradford Opportunity Area is pleased to be able to support the National Literacy Trusts Inspiring Parents events.

“We aim to reach as many parents as possible in local areas through Parent Champions, who can offer practical help to other parents read for fun to their children and help them develop essential reading and communication skills.”
Bradford Stories, run by the National Literacy Trust and Bradford Council, has been in operation since 2014.

Mischief and Mayhem during week commencing 20th May with Peter Rabbit and friends at Bradford Libraries

Peter Rabbit

Calling all you Peter Rabbit fans!  Come and join us for some Mischief and Mayhem during week commencing 20th May with Peter Rabbit and friends.  Library staff will be telling Peter Rabbit stories and offering crafty activities too!  We are also offering the chance to win family tickets to the new Peter Rabbit Exhibition opening at Cartwright Hall on 18 May.

EccleshillMon 20 May2-3pm
ShipleyTues 21 May2pm
KeighleyWeds 22 May11-11.45am
ThorntonWeds 22 May11-12noon
BingleyThurs 23 May10am
MenstonThurs 23 May3.30pm
WibseyThurs 23 May3.45pm
WykeFri 24 May2pm