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Two people sitting on purple stools in front of shelves of books. The person on the right has a yellow soft toy sitting on their lap. The person on the left has a small child sitting on their lap.

Nominations open for Bookbug Hero Award 2024 – here’s everything you need to know

Posted 13.10.23 by Alice Hinds

The Scottish Book Trust has launched the fifth annual Bookbug Hero Award, and is now calling on people to nominate practitioners who use reading to improve the lives of children and families across Scotland.

Run in association with Walker Books, publishers of award-winning authors including Anthony Horowitz, Angie Thomas and Cassandra Clare, the Bookbug Hero Award 2024 is open to librarians, early years workers, volunteers, health visitors or anyone who uses Bookbug to enhance literacy programmes within the local community.

The biggest nationwide universal book gifting programme in the world, Bookbug sees every child in Scotland receive four free book bags between their birth and first year of school, and around 375 Bookbug Sessions take place each week in libraries and community spaces across Scotland, while Bookbug for the Home practitioners also support families on a one-to-one basis.

Nominations are open from now until Friday 10 December 2023, and the winner will be celebrated with a short film made about their work, as well as a special trophy and a bundle of picture books worth £500.

Marc Lambert, CEO of Scottish Book Trust, the national charity changing lives with reading and writing, said: “Bookbug reaches children all over Scotland, providing vital access to books. Without the work of Bookbug practitioners, many families would not discover the fun and lifechanging benefits of sharing stories, songs and rhymes. It is fantastic to be able to recognise this important work through the Bookbug Hero Award, for the fifth time. Our thanks to Walker Books for their continued support in recognising these heroes.”

The team at Walker Books added: “We really appreciate all that Bookbug and the heroes who run the programmes do for communities, and we are really pleased that we can continue to show our appreciation and support of that work by sponsoring the award. We love that it shines a light on those practitioners who champion reading, and work tirelessly to change lives through stories and can’t wait to hear more about the next winner!”

Librarian Ian Keane, winner of the Bookbug Hero Award 2022, said tacking home the prize had a huge impact on his local community – and even saw more people come to his library.

“Our library service was losing the battle and losing the war on maintaining Public Services,” he said. “To have a national agency declare that you and your service are doing great was a shock (a good one).

“It reinvigorated the whole team, it inspired us to work harder, we nearly doubled the number of attendees in the 'Hero' year. It has recalled us to life and reminded us of our relevance and worth. The war for public service is still being fought but thanks to the Bookbug Hero Award, for a little while at least we won our battles and found new strength. It won't be long before the early Bookbug toddlers return with their children. Hopefully, if we keep winning, the Library and our team will be there to greet them.”

For more information and to nominate your local Bookbug Hero, click here to visit the Scottish Book Trust website

Want to discover more about how reading can improve children’s lives? At Children in Scotland’s up-coming Early Years Conference 2023, author Laura Henry-Allain MBE, creator of the JoJo and Gran Gran characters, will deliver a keynote address, sharing her personal story of growing up as a working-class, dyslexic child on a council estate in west London, as well as the importance of diversity and inclusion in education. Click here to book your place

Pink and orange text on a white background 'I am super excited to be delivering a keynote speech at the Early Years Conference. The conference is a must for anyone who works within early years education, irrespective of their role. Laura Henry-Allain MBE keynote speaker. On the right an image of a smiling person with long black hair. The image sits inside a pink speech mark. Along the bottom white text on a green background Children in Scotland's Early Years Conference
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

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 photo of a young boy reading a picture book. He is lying on his front with his hands over his cheeks, and is smiling.

News: Thousands of books donated to families in Scotland

Posted 6 April 2022, by Nina Joynson

More than 2,500 books have been donated to families supported by Home-Start Scotland to encourage engagement with reading from a young age.

Scottish Book Trust has donated thousands of picture books to Home-Start, to be shared among many of the 30 local branches that work across the country.

Home-Start helps families who need support for a variety of reasons, including financial worries, mental and physical health issues, coping with twins, bereavement, isolation and loneliness.

The book donation will include picture books suitable for babies, toddlers and children up to primary school age, to help spark children's interest in reading from a young age.

Scottish Book Trust is a national charity that encourages reading and writing across communities in Scotland, with a focus on those who are vulnerable and under-represented. Through Bookbug and Read, Write, Count, the organisation provides a book gifting programme and story sessions for young readers and their families.

Marc Lambert, CEO of Scottish Book Trust, said:

“Books have the power to change lives. A love of reading inspires creativity. There are many benefits to sharing stories, songs and rhymes with toddlers and pre-schoolers, it gives them the best start in life. We are delighted to support Home-Start Scotland and hope these books will support many families within our communities.

“Research proves that reading for pleasure is central in helping to support wellbeing and mental health, positively impacting learners' attainment across the curriculum, sparking critical thinking, creativity, empathy and resilience.”

Christine Carlin, Director of Home-Start Scotland, said:

“For parents, just a few minutes reading to their children gives them time to step back from the stress of everyday life and enjoy special time with their youngsters.

"Even just sitting closely together looking at a book feels special. For children reading books themselves, it creates a calm, quiet time to build explore and share how they feel, their thoughts and experiences. Reading opens up a world of endless possibilities!”

Click here to find your local Home-Start

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.