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Photo. Three primary school-aged children stand holding Read, Write, Count bags in front of a school mural.

News: Scottish Book Trust invites youngsters to design new Read, Write, Count bag

Posted 17 Jan, 2023 by Jennifer Drummond

Pupils in Primary 1-Primary 3 are invited to submit a design for the new Read, Write, Count bags as part of an exciting art competition run by the literacy charity.

Each year, Scottish Book Trust distributes more  than 120,000 bags of books and fun learning materials to every P2 and P3 child in Scotland.

The 2023 bags will be fully recyclable, made from 40% recycled materials and produced in a factory that uses 100% renewable energy.

To celebrate these new bags, children from P1-P3 are invited to submit a design that represents looking after and loving the planet. Entries will be judged by an expert panel including bestselling author and illustrator Vivian French.

The winning design will be printed on all new Read, Write, Count bags gifted during Book Week Scotland in November.

The winner will also receive an artist’s goodie bag and their class will receive a book donation for their library. The second and third placed entries will also win a selection of books for their school.

Entries can be submitted by teachers or parents/carers, and must be received by Thursday 23 February.  The winner will be revealed in March.

Click here for more details on where and how to submit your entry, as well as submission guidelines

New edition of Insight magazine available now

The winter edition of Insight, Children in Scotland's biannual membership magazine, is published today.

Providing a space for reflection and aiming to drive dialogue, Insight has been created for our members as a key part of our membership benefits offer and is also available by subscription to non-members.

Across the magazine, we profile the individuals pushing for progress and the projects making it possible; look critically at some of the big issues facing children, young people and families, and share new examples of best practice from across the children's sector.

In this issue Kenny Murray, new Director of Inclusion and Engagement at Who Cares? Scotland, tells us why accountability is key; Dr Lynn McNair reflects on the opportunities a later school start age could bring; Alison Watson from Shelter Scotland comments on the record number of children in temporary accommodation; and Magic Torch Comics share how sequential storytelling can help unlock literacy.

Jennifer Drummond, Editor of Insight, says:

As we approach the end of the year, the conversation continues around how to mitigate the cost-of-living crisis that is impacting so many families.

“From addressing stigma and campaigning for equality for those who are Care Experienced, to supporting those facing homelessness or dealing with childhood trauma, this latest edition considers some of the challenges facing our most disadvantaged communities.”

Insight is available for free to all Children in Scotland members, as both print and digital editions.

Click here to find out more about joining us in membership

Non-members can subscribe to receive Insight for just £10 per year (2 issues).

Click here find out more about subscribing to Insight.


Insight: Issue 3

Find out more about what's inside the latest issue. Image by Mary Buchanan

Click here to read more

Join us in membership

Find our more about the benefits of our joining our network

Click here for more
A little girl with glasses stands with an open book. Behind her are shelves full of books and there are some out of focus in the foreground.

News: Dyslexia genes identified by Scottish-led study

Posted 25 October, 2022 by Jennifer Drummond

Scientists have for the first time pinpointed a number of genes that are reliably associated with dyslexia.

The researchers say their findings will aid understanding of the biology behind why some children struggle to read or spell.

Family genes

First recognised in the 1870s, a definition was not reached until the 1960s. Now, dyslexia is typically given as a diagnosis if reading and spelling abilities are poor and much lower than a person’s other academic skills or cognitive abilities.

According to Dyslexia Scotland one in 10 children and adults has dyslexia in Scotland.

Dyslexia is known to run in families but, until now, little was known about the specific gene that increase the risk of developing it.

Research findings

The most recent study, led by the University of Edinburgh, is the largest genetic study of dyslexia to date.

Researched tested the association between millions of genetic variants with dyslexia status and found 42 significant variants.

Some of these are associated with other neurodevelopment conditions, such as language delay, and with thinking skills. Many, however, are novel and could represent genes that more specifically associate with processes essential for learning to read.

Many of the genes associated with dyslexia are also associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). A much smaller overlap of genes associated with dyslexia was found for psychiatric, lifestyle and health conditions.

Researchers say they were able to predict how well children and adults from four other research studies can read and spell sing the genetic information from the study. However, these would not be accurate enough for diagnostic use.

Lead researcher Dr Michelle Luciano from the University of Edinburgh’s School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences said:

“Previous work suggested some brain structures may be altered in people with dyslexia, but we did not find evidence that genes explain this. Our results also suggest that dyslexia is very closely genetically related to performance on reading and spelling tests, reinforcing the importance of standardised testing in identifying dyslexia.”

The study, led by the University of Edinburgh, was done in partnership with Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics (Netherlands), QMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute (Australia) and US company, 23 and Me Inc.

Photo of an adult running a Bookbug session in a library. A man in blue tshirt and jeans stands amongst a group of pre-school children, toddlers and their parents and carers. He is leading them in song.

News: Search begins for Bookbug Hero 2023

Posted 28 September, 2022 by Jennifer Drummond. Photo: Ian Keane, Bookbug Hero 2022 runs a local BookBug session. Photo supplied by Scottish Book Trust.

Scottish Book Trust has opened nominations for its Bookbug Hero 2023 award, honouring someone who has made a difference to the lives of young children, families and communities they work with.

Run in association with Walker Books, the national charity is asking people across the country to nominate a librarian, early years worker, volunteer, health visitor or anyone who uses Bookbug in their work.

Bookbug is Scotland’s national book gifting programme, gifting books to every baby, toddler, three- and five-year old in Scotland in four Bookbug bags. Two Bookbug books are also included in the Scottish Government’s Baby Box scheme, gifted pre-birth.

The Bookbug programme is managed by the Scottish Book Trust and run in partnerships with libraries, health professionals and early years sessions. Bookbug sessions are also run by local libraries or community groups providing free story and rhyme sessions aimed at children up to age four and their families or carers.

Marc Lambert, CEO of Scottish Book Trust said:

“Bookbug touches the lives of so many young families all over Scotland, in libraries, early years and nursery settings and also through the health service. We are excited to open nominations for our fourth Bookbug Hero Award, which celebrates the brilliant work of our Bookbug practitioners. Without this work, many families and children would not discover the fun and lifelong benefits of sharing stories, songs and rhymes.”

Nominations can be made online via the Scottish Book Trust website until Friday 4 November.

A winner will be decided by an expert panel made up of early years practitioners and authors to receive a trophy and a bundle of picture books worth £500 from Walker Books.

Click here to nominate your Bookbug Hero

A green book logo with the text 'Keep the heid and read!'

News: Scots encouraged to 'Keep the heid and read' for Mental Health Week

Posted 10 May 2022, by Nina Joynson

Readers of all ages and abilities are being encouraged to pledge six minutes of reading for wellbeing during Mental Health Week.

A Scotland-wide initiative taking place tomorrow, Wednesday 11 May, encourages people of all ages to support their mental health and wellbeing through reading.

Keep the Heid asks adults, children and young people to pledge just six minutes of reading for enjoyment – from books and magazines to comics, graphic novels and blogs – to highlight how the activity can reduce stress.

Backed by science

The campaign has been inspired by recent research from the University of Sussex that found that reading for as little as six minutes every day can boost individual wellbeing.

The study's results showed that reading was 68% more effective in reducing stress than listening to music, and 30% better than going for a walk.

Pledging for prizes

To encourage people to read during Mental Health Week, individuals, schools and other groups can pledge their reading time on the campaign website and see their minutes added to the online count. At time of publication, over 310,000 minutes of reading have been pledged to take place on 11 May.

By signing up, readers can be entered into a prize draw to win a £100 book token. Young readers can also earn 150 Young Scot Reward points by making their pledge.

A library initiative

The 'national reading moment' is being used to call attention to Scotland's public libraries, promoting readers to choose their books from libraries to support the sector.

There were extensive public calls for libraries to reopen following lockdown, with growing recognition of their role in supporting mental health by connecting and creating communities for adults and children alike.

Keep the Heid is led by the Scottish Library and Information Council in partnership with the Mental Health Foundation, the Scottish Association for Mental Health, and Scotland’s 32 public library services.

Scottish Mental Health Week 2022 runs from 9-15 May.

Click here to learn more about Keep the Heid

A black and white image of a woman above her shoulders. She is looking at the camera and has long dark wavy hair

Comment: Why books and reading deserve to be celebrated

Posted 3 March 2022, by Jennifer Drummond

As children across the country celebrate World Book Day, Abi Baross (pictured) reflects on the benefits of reading for pleasure and how Scottish Book Trust is helping spread the magic to children across Scotland.

For one special day every March, children across the country don costumes of their favourite book characters, take part in author events, share stories, and bring home book vouchers entitling them to their very own £1 book. Events like World Book Day, and Scottish Book Trust’s own Book Week Scotland, bring the magic of stories to the forefront of community and school activities, with the hope of fostering a lifelong, and life-changing, love of reading.

Scottish Book Trust believes everyone living in Scotland should have equal access to books. Our work provides opportunities to improve life chances through books and the fundamental skills of reading and writing. Access to books and a love of books bring many important benefits – in addition to the sheer joy of disappearing into a brilliant story, research into reading for pleasure has found that reading can:

  • reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety
  • inspire creativity
  • reduce feelings of isolation
  • improve financial skills and critical literacy skills
  • boost empathy, self-esteem, resilience and mental wellbeing
  • improve school pupils’ attainment across the curriculum.

Researchers have also discovered that whether or not a young person enjoys reading is more important for their educational success than their family’s socio-economic status.

We know that sparking a love of reading in children can have a huge, life-changing impact on their lives – both in terms of their day-to-day happiness and wellbeing, and their future opportunities and prospects.

It’s never too early – or too late – to start sharing stories with children.

At Scottish Book Trust, we try to support all communities across Scotland, with particular focus on those who are vulnerable and under-represented. Our programmes and outreach work supports wee ones and their families from their earliest days, through to providing support to people living with dementia and their carers.

For children in Scotland, we ensure that families of all backgrounds can share the joy of books at home by gifting books and activities to every baby, toddler, nursery child and P1–3 pupil through Bookbug and Read, Write, Count bags. Bookbug Sessions provide a fun and nurturing space for families to enjoy songs and rhymes together with their local community. School age children can benefit from a huge range of programmes and resources to help them develop a love of reading.

We work with teachers and schools to build vibrant reading cultures through the First Minister’s Reading Challenge and our new accreditation programme, Reading Schools. Programmes like BBC Authors Live and the Scottish Friendly Children’s Book Tour bring brilliant authors and illustrators into classrooms, both literally and virtually, while The Bookbug Picture Book Prize and the Scottish Teenage Book Prize champion the very best of Scottish authors, illustrators and publishers.

On World Book Day, demand for these programmes and events skyrockets. The profile of reading for pleasure is rarely higher, and schools across the country throw themselves into the fun with enthusiasm.

The attention that is afforded to the importance of books, in a landscape of closing libraries and schools losing their librarians, provides an important and much-needed opportunity to capture the imaginations of children and teens, helping them to become enthusiastic readers themselves.

Books and reading deserve to be celebrated. And in the act of celebrating them, we spread their magic further. We wish you a very happy World Book Day 2022!

Abi Baross is Marketing Communications Co-ordinator with the Scottish Book Trust

Support the work of Scottish Book Trust:

For many children in Scotland, the only books they have are the ones they have been given by Scottish Book Trust. Since the pandemic, the situation has worsened. Without books, children are missing out and the impact of this lasts a lifetime. If you’d like to support, please click here to donate to help continue the work of bringing books to all.