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First Minister's Reading Challenge kicks off

Published: 19 Aug 2016 10:00
Part of:
Education

Getting kids across Scotland reading for pleasure.

Children across Scotland will take up the challenge to read from a list of up to 100 books throughout the new school year as part of a Scottish Government initiative.

The First Minister's Reading Challenge is designed to encourage children to read for pleasure and develop a life-long love of books.

The scheme is being launched by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to coincide with the start of the new school term. It is supported by Scottish Book Trust, who will roll it out into schools for primary four to seven pupils across Scotland.

The challenge is designed to encourage children to achieve their own reading goals, choosing from a specially-selected list of 100 books chosen by a special panel of academics, experts and teachers. There will be additional rewards for creative book reviews.

The First Minister met pupils from South Morningside Primary School in Edinburgh at the Book Festival earlier today ahead of the scheme, and took part in a special workshop with children's author and illustrator Alice Melvin.

Speaking at the visit, the First Minister said:

"Encouraging children to read for pleasure not only helps our young people develop vital language and literacy skills, but also opens up a whole new world of adventure and fun through the exciting and varied range of books suggested.

"Some of my happiest childhood memories involve immersing myself in stories so I'm pleased to have the opportunity to encourage young people to also experience the joy of reading for pleasure.

"I hope this scheme goes a long way in encouraging Scotland's young people to see reading as an important leisure activity as much as a school one.

"The Reading Challenge will help support the excellent work going on in schools and communities, and sits alongside investment of £750 million over the next five years in measures and reforms to close the attainment gap in Scotland.

"Best of luck to all the children taking part, and I'm looking forward to hearing how everyone gets on!"

Author Alice Melvin added:

"Helping children discover the joy of reading for pleasure is one of the best gifts you can give them. Reading allows children to explore their emotions, expand their horizons, develop their empathy and above all to lose themselves in the drama of a great story.

"Feeling a connection with a book is a genuinely joyous feeling, and one of my greatest delights since becoming a mother has been watching my own daughter's pleasure in stories.

"As an illustrator I feel privileged that my books are enjoyed by children around the world and their words and pictures are helping to engage the next generation of readers."

Janet Smyth, Children and Education Programme Director at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, said:

"Sometimes knowing how to choose a book for a child is the biggest challenge but the 100 books on the reading challenge list offers an excellent choice of genres from humour to adventure, historical to fantasy so there really is something for everyone. The familiar names combined with some emerging writers means it's the perfect way to build on or kickstart a child's reading journey."

Marc Lambert, Chief Executive of Scottish Book Trust, added:

"Through reading everyone has a chance to develop and realise their unique potential. That's why we are so delighted to be delivering the First Minister's Reading Challenge and working with the help of an Advisory Group of professionals and stakeholders to promote and foster a culture of reading in Scotland.

"Creating a nation of readers is one of the most beneficial and far-sighted aims any society can have, because reading has the power to change lives, benefitting both the individuals regardless of their background and society at large.

"With a website full of resources for pupils, parents and teachers, the opportunity for teachers to apply for author visits for their pupils, prizes to be won, and a new publication featuring great books for children, the First Minister's Reading Challenge represents a welcome and timely contribution to the culture of reading in Scotland."

Notes to editors

More information on how the First Minister's Reading Challenge works and how to sign up can be found at:

http://www.scottishbooktrust.com/learning/teachers-librarians/first-ministers-reading-challenge

The full list of books on the First Minister's Reading Challenge list will be published on 1st September.