The Big Family Read

Big Family Read - ‘Evie and the Animals’ by Matt Haig

Wed 22 Dec 2021

Winner of the 2021 Big Family Read short story competition announced!

Derby Libraries Big Family Read is an annual event where we take one great book and encourage hundreds of children and families across Derby to read, share and creatively engage with it, to get families across the whole city reading and talking about books together. Our chosen book for 2021 was Evie And The Animals by Matt Haig. Derby Libraries is delighted to announce that the winner of the 2021 Big Family Read competition is Kaitlyn age 11. We are committed to supporting pupils’ reading, literacy and creativity and we will be running the Big Family Read again in 2022. Please keep an eye on our website for more details and we will also keep in touch with you with more updates next year.

Kaitlyn wrote a fantastic piece titled ‘Once There Was A World…’ a story about climate change with a powerful message about how we can all come together to save our planet. We really enjoyed reading this topical, well written and kind story and we were impressed that the whole story was written in rhyme. It gave the story pace and rhythm and we loved this extra injection of creativity! Kaitlyn will receive a collection of brilliant audiobooks kindly donated by our eBook supplier BorrowBox.

Once there was a world, short story by Kaitlyn aged 11

Once there was a world

Once there was a world that was big and beautiful.  Animals were healthy and trees were fruitful.  Later, humans built factories and began a revolution.  No-one cared to save their planet or help with a solution.  Instead, humans invented pollution.  The world began to crumble and lose its beauty.  The fruit from the trees were no longer fruity.  Some people began to scream and shout.  “We knew all along that what we did was wrong.  We need our voices to be heard.  Please, please hear our cry and tell us, tell us, tell us why we choose to do this to our World”.  No-one would listen.  No-one would care all they would do is stare.  It would not work if they scream and shout.  Soon animals began to die out.  So now there is a world that is big but has no beauty.  Animals are sick and trees are no longer fruity.  All because of ?Humans?.

Soon the people began to realise that the people were right but like in the real world we have to conquer our own fight.  Harming animals, Climate change and pollution are all Wrong and we need to come together and solve the battle with a solution.  If we come together to solve this disaster.  Then we need together, and we need to work faster.  This is our planet that we need to look after.  We should love our planet.


By Kaitlyn

Tue 7 Sep 2021

This year, the Big Family Read takes place from Monday 4 October to Monday 29 November.

What is the Big Family Read?

Derby Libraries’ Big Family Read is about supporting the development of children's reading and writing skills, contributing towards improving children’s literacy levels and promoting reading for pleasure.  By taking one great book and encouraging hundreds of children and families across Derby to read, share and creatively engage with it, we aim to get families across the whole city reading and talking about books together.

How can my family get involved?

Derby Libraries will have multiple downloads of both the eBook and eAudiobook available online as well as paper copies across all our libraries, including Community Managed Libraries, for families to borrow. Visit your local library to find out more, or use our library catalogue to order the Big Family Read Book (see below), or download it using our BorrowBox App

What is this year’s book?

The book we have chosen this year is ‘Evie and the Animals’ by Matt Haig.  We chose this book because it’s a fun, heart-warming book full of thrills and spills but it’s also very timely with its themes of nature, helping to save animals and the environment and embracing difference. 

This is what author; Matt Haig has said about his book:

Eleven-year-old Evie has a talent. A supertalent. A talent that can let her HEAR the thoughts of an elephant and make friends with a dog and a sparrow. The only problem is - this talent is dangerous - VERY dangerous. That’s what Evie’s Dad says. So, when she frees the school rabbit from its tiny hutch, she vows to keep her talent a secret. But after a face-to-face encounter with a lion, things start to go very wrong. Her Dad and every animal in town is now in danger. Evie is determined to save them. And to find the truth of her own past. To do that she must battle a mysterious man with a talent more powerful than any other.

As time runs out, she must seek help from the animals, and finally dare to be herself.

Be inspired by our Big Family Read video workshop

The video is presented by actor and storyteller Robin Simpson.  It’s a fun video all about animals, nature and the environment and should help you get started on your competition story. COMING SOON

Animal Quiz

Enter our Short Story Competition!

This is a chance for children aged five to 12, along with friends and family, to have a go at writing their own story. We are looking for creativity, imagination and originality. Stories can be up to 300 words.

Here are some ideas to help inspire creativity:

  • For environment and nature inspiration, visit your local Derby park - what can you see, hear, smell, feel?
  • For writing about animals. Do you have a favourite pet at home, what do they like to do - sleep, play, eat? Are they noisy or quiet animals? How do they make you feel? What do you think they would say to you if they could talk?
  • Give yourself a superpower and write a story about how you would use it to save the environment.
  • Create a new sidekick and write about how they help Evie save the animals.

Entry forms for the competition will be available in libraries and online from Mon 4 Oct. The closing date is Mon 29 Nov 2021 at 12noon.

The winner will receive a set of eAudiobooks donated by Bolinda, our eBook supplier, and their work will be published on our website.

The winner will be notified by email by Wed 22 Dec and announced on our social media. Please note there may be a delay in sending / collecting the prize out to the winning entrant if Covid-19 measures are still in place.

You can read our full competition terms and conditions on our website. All information will be treated in accordance with our privacy notice.

Competition entry

Competion open between Mon 4 Oct and Mon 29 Nov 2021. Thank you for your interest. 

Previous years entries - 2018

Big Family Read with BorrowBox
Poem, The Bully, by India

Winner India's poem The Bully.

Poem by Charlotte

Runner up Charlotte's poem Title Poem.

Poem by Abigail

Runner up Abigail's poem Summer Holiday by the Beach

Previous years entries - 2020 winner

 Zoha age 6

One sunny morning a boy called Milad was walking down the street when suddenly he noticed that the daffodils looked brighter than usual. He went near them to take a closer look and noticed a metal object tucked away near the stems. Milad took the object out and it was a sword, an actual real sword, you know the ones that you read about. The little boy tucked the sword under his fleece top and ran home.

“Milad is that you?” called his mum as he entered the house from the back door. “Yes mum” Milad shouted back. Milad took the sword into his bedroom. It had been long day and Milad’s mind went back to his poorly friend who was in hospital and prayed that his friend gets better soon. With that thought the sword started flashing with what looked like all the colours of the sharpie pens and it read *TAKE ME TO THE HOSPITAL*.

At the hospital Milad went straight to see his friend in ward 202. There his friend was being looked after by a lovely doctor with brown hair and a beautiful smile. “Hello little boy”, said the doctor as Milad entered the room. Milad got the sword from under his fleece and this time the message on it was *POINT ME AT YOUR FRIEND*. As soon as Milad did this, a flashing light shone on his friend’s face and his friend sat up. The doctor looked in amazement and couldn’t believe what she had just seen, the patient was well.

The sword flashed again with the message *I HAVE DONE MY JOB, NOW LEAVE ME AT THIS HOSPITAL SO I CAN GIVE POSTIVE ENERGY TO ALL THE DOCTORS TO DO THEIR JOB*. Milad explained to the doctor about the daffodils and the sword and she said to Milad, “I think this sword needed to come into the hospital to spread some miracles, as we need them now more than ever, hoping for some positive energy to get rid of the coronavirus … and we will!”