Scotland’s Reading Challenge For Young People

The First Minister’s Reading Challenge has opened for registrations for the new school term.

Image by Rachel Hein

The challenge is available to all primary and secondary schools as well as community groups and libraries in Scotland, and aims to build positive reading cultures and improve literacy for young people. Now in its fifth year, the programme is run by national charity Scottish Book Trust. Over a third of all schools in Scotland took part in the challenge last year.

The First Minister’s Reading Challenge aims to support teachers and pupils returning to school after lockdown with additional resources and funding. According to a new report by National Literacy Trust, 3 in 5 (59.3%) children and young people said that during lockdown reading “makes them feel better”. The challenge can assist schools and community groups to establish regular reading routines and activities as young people ease back into education.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

“I launched the First Minister’s Reading Challenge to inspire as many young people as possible to discover a joy of reading.

“Reading regularly not only opens the door to new worlds – it improves vital literacy skills, boosts mental health and creativity and can spark a passion and inspiration which can have a lasting impact on whole communities.

“That is why I want schools and libraries across the country to register for the fifth year of the challenge to help motivate and inspire the next generation of Scotland’s book lovers.”

Image by Jonathan Ley

Marc Lambert, CEO of Scottish Book Trust, said:

“It has been a difficult year for both teachers and pupils, and we hope the First Minister’s Reading Challenge will be able to offer support and structure to those returning to school for the first time since lockdown.

“Funding will also be available to those who register for the challenge, giving classrooms and community groups the chance to organise their own book event.”

As well as building literacy, reading helps young people to relax and can provide a form of escapism. A recent study on teenagers’ reading habits from Scottish Book Trust and Edinburgh University found that reading helped young people to develop empathy and understand other perspectives. The report supports initiatives such as the First Minister’s Reading Challenge, which builds reading for pleasure into the young person’s school week.


Primary schools, secondary schools, libraries and community groups that register for the First Minister’s Reading Challenge will be able to apply for funding to work with an author, illustrator, poet or storyteller. This may be an in person or remote event, a personalised resource or other partnership. 

The deadline for applying is Thursday 26 November.

Applicants will have until the end of the school year to use the funds. Funds will cover the author fee, travel where necessary and accompanying materials such as books, art supplies etc to help them make the most of the event.

Scottish Book Trust will also host a CLPL session for teachers and librarians called “Get Inspired with the First Minister’s Reading Challenge” on Thursday 3 September 2020. Those who register will have access to best practice from previous years’ winners such as Beancross Primary School in Falkirk, the national winner for the School Reading Journey.

Other resources for schools and community groups that register for the challenge include downloadable reading passports, classroom resources, book lists and activities available for all age groups.

According to the 2018-19 evaluation, 84% of staff that took part felt the challenge was flexible enough to meet the needs of their school.

For more information, registration and funding, visit

person in spiderman costume
Photo by Life of Wu on

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1 reply »

  1. That picture of Spiderman reading a newspaper does put a smile on my face. But on a serious note, welcome the First Minister’s suggestion with open arms. The Scots are lucky! I found my inspiration to read after I bumped into and found some great sci-fi book referrals.

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