The First Minister's Reading Challenge is a national initiative helping schools, public libraries and community groups to encourage young people to develop a lifelong love of reading. Schools that take part have access to resources, training and funding opportunities, and can submit an entry for one of our annual national awards. The programme is delivered by Scottish Book Trust and funded by the Scottish Government.

To assess the impact of the First Minister's Reading Challenge Scottish Book Trust has commissioned independent evaluations every year since the programme began in 2016, taking in the views of learning professionals, pupils, parents and carers.

Research Scotland’s full report demonstrates the positive impact of the programme on school communities. 

Despite the school year being disrupted by lockdown, evaluation showed that many schools adapted their approach to continue delivering the Reading Challenge. See our infographic for a breakdown of some of the key findings.

  • 803 schools registered to take part
  • 90% of primary and 80% of secondary school respondents felt the Reading Challenge helped encourage reading for pleasure
  • 75% of primary and 76% of secondary schools felt the Reading challenge helped them build better links with parents
  • 88% of primary and 79% of secondary schools reported that the Challenge helped their pupils read for pleasure more

Case Study: Blackwood Primary Rainbow Warriors Literary Group

During the lockdown from March to June 2020, P2 pupils at Blackwood primary school took part in a story writing project. The project was initiated by two parents who developed the idea as a way of keeping their children and families connected during the lockdown.

Pupils in P2 developed a story about a boy who pressed a rainbow and went on a journey to magical places. Each pupil wrote or illustrated a part of the character’s journey, detailing what he did and where he travelled. Each section of the story was added to a shared Facebook group, so pupils could follow the progress of their character.

The school was delighted with the proposal for the story writing project. The principal teacher noted that the Reading Challenge is now embedded into school activity and recognised by parents as a valuable element of the curriculum.

'This project not only encouraged and highlighted the gifted and creative talents of our children but it also connected families, a school and a community during a very challenging time'

Inspiring Classrooms

All primary schools that take part in the First Minister’s Reading Challenge are eligible to apply for Inspiring Classrooms funding. The grant pays for schools to bring authors in to inspire, motivate and celebrate their progress in creating a reading culture. The grant also includes funding for books and other resources to support the project.

In 2018, 100 schools across Scotland welcomed an author through Inspiring Classrooms. You can hear from pupils, teachers, and author Keith Brumpton in our video case study from All Saints Primary in Inverclyde.

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