Nicola Sturgeon launches new children's reading challenge

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has launched an initiative to get more children reading for pleasure.

Nicola Sturgeon launches the Reading Challenge with children's author and illustrator Alice Melvin. Picture: PA
Nicola Sturgeon launches the Reading Challenge with children's author and illustrator Alice Melvin. Picture: PA

The Reading Challenge encourages youngsters to enjoy as many books as possible each year from a selection of 100 chosen by a panel of writers, academics and teachers.

The list includes Ms Sturgeon’s favourite childhood book - Five On A Treasure Island from Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series.

From September, primary four to seven pupils will be able to log their reading progress in special passports and will be encouraged to write reviews of their chosen books.

Prizes will also be awarded to children and schools as part of the Scottish Government initiative, which is being supported by Scottish Book Trust.

Ms Sturgeon launched her First Minister’s Reading Challenge as she met pupils from South Morningside Primary School in Edinburgh at the start of the new school term.

She also took part in a workshop with children’s author and illustrator Alice Melvin at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

The First Minister said: “Encouraging children to read for pleasure not only helps our young people develop vital language and literacy skills, but also opens up a whole new world of adventure and fun through the exciting and varied range of books suggested.

“Some of my happiest childhood memories involve immersing myself in stories so I’m pleased to have the opportunity to encourage young people to also experience the joy of reading for pleasure.

“I hope this scheme goes a long way in encouraging Scotland’s young people to see reading as an important leisure activity as much as a school one.

“The Reading Challenge will help support the excellent work going on in schools and communities, and sits alongside investment of £750 million over the next five years in measures and reforms to close the attainment gap in Scotland.”

Ms Melvin added: “Helping children discover the joy of reading for pleasure is one of the best gifts you can give them. Reading allows children to explore their emotions, expand their horizons, develop their empathy and above all to lose themselves in the drama of a great story.

“Feeling a connection with a book is a genuinely joyous feeling, and one of my greatest delights since becoming a mother has been watching my own daughter’s pleasure in stories.”