AN AWARD-WINNING children's author visited Bettws Library on Monday to encourage youngsters to find their inner bookworm this summer.

Schools across Newport have once again encouraged pupils to finish six books across the six-week holiday as part of The Reading Agency’s Summer Reading Challenge.

Christopher Edge guided the children through a puzzle-filled adventure inspired by his latest novel, Escape Room.

Mr Edge says his local library where he grew up in Manchester was his “gateway” into a life as a successful writer.

“We didn’t have loads of books at home,” he told the Argus. “I remember going to the library first thing in the morning, borrowing some books and taking them back by lunchtime to get new ones out.

South Wales Argus: Christopher Edge's books at Bettws Library.Christopher Edge's books at Bettws Library. (Image: Sam Portillo)

“The librarian couldn’t believe I finished them and actually quizzed me about the books.”

Inspired by the film Dead Poets Society - in which an unconventional English teacher played by Robin Williams inspires a group of young students - Mr Edge became an English teacher - a job which he said reminded him of the “sheer brilliance” of children’s fiction.

“There are no boundaries and you’ve got an audience who’ve got their minds wide open," he said. "They’re much more daring readers.”

Data shows that a child's living conditions have a material effect on their achievements at school. Pupils eligible for free school meals in Wales are around 20 per cent less likely to achieve expected levels in core subjects such as English, with the gap appearing to widen since schools closed during the pandemic.

Girls are also more likely to reach the expected level in English by the end of Key Stage 3 than boys.

Sense of wonder

Mr Edge's novels deal with concepts at the very edge of scientific understanding, including artificial intelligence and the multiverse - which many will know from Marvel’s blockbuster movies.

The author revealed that he “hated” science lessons at school, but now appreciates that both physics and fiction are ways of asking big questions about the origins and purpose of life.

“If my stories can spark that sense of wonder, maybe they can look at the world around themselves and wonder how they can make it even more wonderful,” he said.

“Childhood is not always this golden idyll that we pretend it is, but what I like my books to do is open doors - say the reality we’re in now is not the reality we’re in our entire lives.”

Mr Edge has received plaudits from children, parents and critics alike for stories such as The Many Worlds of Albie Bright and The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day.