Celebrating Valentine’s Day with 25 books children and young people in Wales love!

On 14 February, public libraries in Wales and The Reading Agency announced 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. 

Children and young people across Wales responded in their droves and the top 25 list has now been published. Among those on the list are award winning Welsh authors like the writer and broadcaster Horatio Clare, who was brought up on a sheep farm in South Wales, four times winner of the Tir na n’Og Wales Children’s Book Awards and Libraries Wales January 2022 author of the month Manon Steffan Ros from Meirionnydd, and popular Pembrokeshire-based children’s author, Eloise Williams. 

Llyfrau Rhestr Fer Gaeaf Llawn Lles

“I’m so honoured to have been nominated for the Winter of Wellbeing booklist, and I’d like to give a huge thanks to all who give their time and energy to reading my work. Books have always been excellent company and faithful friends to me, so to be included on this list means a great deal,” said Manon whose book Fi ac Aaron Ramsey, a tale of two friends and ends as Wales reach the Euros in 2020 is featured in the top 25 feel-good reads. 

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.  

   Cover image of Seaglass

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.”  

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.  

“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.” 

Image of Alex Wharton  

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!” 

Here is the full list of the top 25 nominated feel-good page turners for children and young adults:

  • Rain before Rainbows by Smriti Halls and illustrated by David Litchfield (Walker Books) A story about friendship, courage and self-belief 
  • Sharing a Shell by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Lydia Monks / Welsh language edition: Croeso I’n Cragen (Rily Publications Ltd) 
  • Sometimes I feel…SUNNY by Gillian Shields with illustrations by Georgie Birkett (Penguin) / Welsh language edition: Weithiau Dwi’n Teimlo’n Heulog (Dref Wen)
  • One Snowy Night by Nick Butterworth (Harper Collins)
  • Sw Sara Mai by Casia Wiliam and illustrations by Gwen Millward (Y Lolfa)
  • Daydreams and jellybeans poetry by Alex Wharton illustrated by Katy Riddell (Firefly Press)
  • While We Can’t Hug by Eoin McLaughlin and illustrated by Polly Dunbar (Faber and Faber)
  • The Pond by Nicola Davies and Cathy Fisher (Graffeg) / Welsh language: Y Pwll 
  • Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot by Horatio Clare and illustrated by Jane Matthews (Firefly Press)
  • Fi ac Aaron Ramsey by Manon Steffan Ros (Y Lolfa)
  • Future Friend by David Baddiel and illustrated by Steven Lenton (Harper Collins)
  • Seaglass by Eloise Williams (Firefly Press)
  • Hello universe by Erin Entrada Kelly (Harper Collins)
  • Black and British: A Forgotten History by David Olusoga and illustrated by Jake Alexander and Melleny Taylor (Macmillan Children’s)
  • The Infinite by Patience Agbabi (Canongate)
  • You are a Champion: How to be the best you can be by Marcus Rashford and Carl Anka (Macmillan Children’s Books)
  • The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani (Harper Collins)
  • A Kind of Spark by Elle McNicoll (Knights Of)
  • Scrambled by Huw Davies (Firefly Press) / Welsh language edition: Sgramblo (Firefly)
  • The Girl from the Sea by Molly Knox Ostertag (Scholastic)
  • Can You See Me by Libby Scott and Rebecca Westcott (Scholastic)
  • October, October by Katya Balen with illustrations by Angela Harding (Bloomsbury)
  • Coming up for Air by Tom Daley (Harper Collins)
  • War Horse by Michael Morpurgo (Egmont)/ Welsh adaptation: Ceffyl Rhyfel (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch)
  • The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse by Charlie Mackesy (Penguin) / Welsh language edition: Y Bachgen, y Wahadden, y Llwynog a’r Ceffyl (Graffeg)

Adult and younger child reading picture books at Aberdare Library

Storytime at Aberdare Library.

Remember that some of the great writers behind these are joining the Reading Agency for special Winter of Wellbeing events in March, and are featured on their activities page.

Also don’t forget the Winter of Wellbeing competition! The Reading Agency are inviting you to either…

  • create a one-of-a kind artwork or poster that promotes your favourite mood-boosting read (we hope you’ve nominated!).


  • if you are more into creative writing than drawing or painting, pen a review of the book for our review page.

Visit the Reading Agency website for more details.


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