Book Week Scotland to become annual event

Fiona Hyslop with authors Denise Mina, Richard Holloway and Mairi Hedderwick show off their 'treasures' at yesterday's launch. Picture: Rob McDougall
Fiona Hyslop with authors Denise Mina, Richard Holloway and Mairi Hedderwick show off their 'treasures' at yesterday's launch. Picture: Rob McDougall
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A WEEK-long national celebration of reading is set to become an annual event after more than 55,000 people took part in a pilot project last year.

More than 25,000 adults and 30,000 schoolchildren attended national book week events across the country under the £250,000 initiative, which is to be staged again this November.

Almost half a million free books were given away during the initial campaign, which involved around 350 free events.

One strand saw thousands of copies of a specially commissioned book, about the favourite places of Scots, given away on west-coast ferries run by Caledonian MacBrayne.

The first Book Week Scotland also saw around 100 authors stage special events in visitor attractions and libraries around the country, a pop-up book festival and a nationwide treasure hunt for tiny paper sculptures with a literary theme.

Last year, every child starting primary school received a free reading pack, including a book, under the initiative, which was spearheaded by the Scottish Book Trust on behalf of the Scottish Government.

Research carried out during the campaign found 95 per cent of teachers said Book Week Scotland had a positive impact on their pupils’ reading and writing abilities. The study also found 77 per cent of participants rated it as either excellent or good.

Culture secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “Schools were re-energised by it and were really embracing reading. There is something very precious about a child who has perhaps not had access to a book at home being able to hold a book and see the pictures.

“That’s why targeting primary one pupils was so important. I know Book Week Scotland reached all parts of Scotland last year, but I want it to evolve and interest people who have perhaps got out of the habit of reading.”

A campaign at the heart of the next Book Week Scotland, which is being funded to the tune of £250,000 by arts agency Creative Scotland, will see Scots encouraged to write a short story or poem about their most treasured possession.

A selection of the best contributions to the “treasures” initiative will be compiled for another free book, around 150,000 copies of which will be given away to coincide with the second Book Week Scotland, due to run from 25 November to 1 December.

Marc Lambert, chief executive of the Scottish Book Trust, added: “Book Week Scotland 2012 was an outstanding success. We are delighted that it is now set to become a major date in the calendar.”

Aly Barr, development officer with Creative Scotland, added: “The first Book Week Scotland brought readers and writers together from Shetland to Castle Douglas and encouraged people to drop everything and indulge in a good read for an hour.”

A full programme of Book Week Scotland events will be launched later this year.