The Bookworm Takes on the Challenge


Lesslie Oliver, owner of children’s bookshop The Bookworm in Selkirk, discusses the impact the First Minister’s Reading Challenge has had on the local community and how they have made the most of this exciting opportunity.

The First Minister's Reading Challenge has had a great impact on our local community and we have loved getting involved.

As part of the Challenge, Parent Committees have donated money for local schools to refresh their collection of books. They used the online recommendations resource as a starting point and, as Selkirk’s local children’s bookhop, pupils, staff and parents came along to The Bookworm for advice and to order the books they decided on. The children now have access to some beautiful new books which has made a real difference to them. The Reading Challenge Passport is something that children talk about a lot and they will often bring theirs along to the shop to show me how well they are doing. The local schools have also made the most of their library service, making sure pupils have the opportunity to visit on a regular basis.

Sometimes it is easy to forget that not all children have the benefit of readily available piles of books.


I came from a family that didn't really have access to our own collection of books but I did have a beautiful local library and hours would be spent selecting books. The Reading Challenge encourages children to choose their own books, extend their imaginations and discover a world of adventures through reading for pleasure. Therefore, giving children the chance to visit local libraries and bookshops to have that special experience of being surrounded by books is invaluable, as is input from teachers who already work so hard at sharing a love of books through education.

As an Independent Bookseller, I wanted to be a part of this fantastic scheme and work with the schools by sharing great books and inspiring creative writing from children who might not always feel it is their forte.

My experiences visiting schools so far have been amazing and my latest visit to Knowepark Primary left me completely in awe. The creativity of the children was overwhelming, as was their readiness to share their favourite books.


Knowepark have been enjoying developing different ways of delivering a good story as part of their reading journey, and on Monday 26 February I was invited along to share a story with their p4-7 classes. The story I chose, Only an Octopus by Maggie Tokuda-Hall and Benji Davies, is a picture book which begins with the line: 'Every story starts the same way...with nothing' and we are greeted with a blank page. How very exciting! We discussed how all their favourite authors had started in the same way, with a little bit of nothing. The teachers then set a graphic novel task for the pupils entitled 'Every story starts with a… little bit of nothing'.


The Bookworm was then invited to look at the pupils’ pieces of work and it was amazing. They had responded with beautifully creative and ​imaginative stories. We held a competition and awarded certificates to the winning pupil from each class and a book token for the overall winner. Pupils are going to be displaying their work at the school, Selkirk Library and The Bookworm to share with the whole community.

What's next for The Bookworm?

We have a visit planned over Science Week at Philiphaugh Primary School and we are reading George's Marvellous Medicine! The Challenge will be for pupils to create their own formulas for a new invention and we are really looking forward to seeing what they come up with! In addition, we are planning a ‘Share a Story Book’ in a few weeks’ time at the shop. This will be on a Saturday and children will be able to share their favourite stories and swap books with each other.

Back to Blog

Get the resources and support you need to promote reading in your school or community

Take part