The 4-4-2 Reading Challenge launched at Thorn Primary School in Johnstone yesterday with a record number of Scottish public libraries taking part. Over 200 libraries are working in partnership with 14 Scottish Professional Football League clubs in a pioneering project which aims to encourage children aged between five and 12-years-old to read.

The Challenge is a joint venture between SLIC, the SPFL Trust and Scottish Book Trust, with funding provided by the SPFL. It is also the first time the project, which is in its second year, includes Gàidhlig translation, in partnership with Bòrd na Gàidhlig.

A total of 204 libraries and 20 mobile libraries in Fife, Dundee, Angus, Aberdeenshire, Highland, Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire, Stirling, South Ayrshire and Dumfries & Galloway are taking part.

Participating libraries and SPFL clubs will issue a reading 'Challenge Card', with children receiving a stamp on their card for every book read. In exchange for reading four books, children receive a free match ticket to a home game at one of the participating clubs, with an accompanying adult able to purchase a discounted ticket. The project will run for the whole season, subject to availability.

A total of 14 Scottish football clubs are taking part in the 4-4-2 Challenge - Arbroath, Ayr United, Brechin City, Dundee, Dundee United, East Fife, Forfar Athletic, Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Peterhead, Queen of the South, Ross County, St Mirren and Stirling Albion.

Improving Literacy & Wellbeing

443 Reading Challenge PosterSPFL Trust Chief Executive Nicky Reid explained: "The 4-4-2 Reading Challenge initiative is designed to encourage children who don’t regularly visit the library or attend sport to do so. As such, we think it’s a real win-win opportunity for all concerned. I would like to thank the SPFL for their continued support in funding the project, which has engaged with more than twenty thousand kids in its first year, and we hope this can continue to grow and inspire children to read.”

Pamela Tulloch, chief executive at SLIC said: "Reading for pleasure has a huge impact on the emotional wellbeing of people. For children and young people, reading regularly can help improve literacy and learning.  But reading is an activity that must be practised, and we fully support initiatives that encourage children to read often and to explore various genre and material. 

"This is where libraries offer a valuable service; they are welcoming, accessible and trusted spaces, where children can learn and grow their imagination with a range of reading activities.  We hope the 4-4-2 Reading Challenge encourages more children to read more and to develop a long-term love of reading.”

Reading and writing are important factors in reducing the attainment gap and help to improve mental health issues such as anxiety, and depression. Over 20,000 children participated in the first 4-4-2 Challenge last year, with more looking set to join in this year.

Marc Lambert, CEO of Scottish Book Trust, added: "The 4-4-2 Reading Challenge is a fantastic opportunity to engage young readers, including reluctant readers, especially boys, who are more likely to drop reading for pleasure as they grow older. Not only does the challenge bring together communities, but it also supports local libraries and encourages young people to discover a new love of reading that can last a lifetime.”

For more informationm on the 4-4-2 Challenge visit the SPFL Trust website.