On the SLIC blog this week Sarah Mallon, School Communities Outreach Co-ordinator with the Scottish Book Trust talks about the First Minister’s Reading Challenge.


Libraries are at the heart of our reading culture, offering books, resources and expertise to the whole community. While schools and libraries were closed, the free provision of e-books and audio books through library services helped keep Scotland reading.

Now as libraries continue to work under strict restrictions or reduced opening hours, they are finding new ways to inspire reading, and the First Minister’s Reading Challenge can offer resources and opportunities to support them.

Author Funding

Last year the Reading Challenge launched the Library Fund to deliver creative and inspiring author events for children and young people. East Ayrshire Libraries’ plans were delayed due to the pandemic, but they’ve since used the funding to deliver a digital event with comic book artist Tom Foster!

Digital author events help to engage children and young people in reading from home, and ensure that they can still benefit from seeing an author bring their books to life. Our Library Fund now covers both in person and digital author events, and is open for applications until 26 November, so make sure you don’t miss out!

Facilitating Book Borrowing

First Minister's Reading Challenge Bookshelf CardIf your library is open at the moment, you might be trying to reduce the amount of hands-on browsing by changing your book displays and having hand sanitiser available. Another useful resource to try is our Bookshelf Recommendation Cards. Borrowers can fill these in with their thoughts when they return a book, the cards are displayed near your shelves to help browsers. This can help create a sense of community for your readers; they are able to recommend books to each other, even if they can't meet in person right now. 

Remind your local schools that they can still request books to collect or be dropped off. If they don't have particular books in mind, you could put together a lucky dip selection to help spark their imagination and give pupils some new reading options.

Our Safe Book Borrowing resource is another place to look for handy ideas and tips as you continue to share books and encourage reading within the restrictions.

Scottish Teenage Book Prize shortlist 2020Even without school visits, there are lots of opportunities to share your book expertise with teachers and young people. We have recently launched Book Discovery sessions to share book recommendations on various themes, and it’s been inspiring to bring together teachers, public librarians and school librarians to share their expertise with each other. Our next session is focused on the shortlist for the Scottish Teenage Book Prize, and we look forward to holding more sessions next year.

If your library is taking part in the Reading Challenge, we would love to hear from you about how you are promoting reading in the current climate and anything we could do to support you. You can email us at readingchallenge@scottishbooktrust.com.

If you haven't registered to take part in the challenge yet, you can do so here.