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Press release: First Minister's Reading Challenge winners announced

The First Minister (Thursday 9 June) visited Prestwick Academy to announce the winners of the First Minister's Reading Challenge.

First Minister's Reading Challenge trophies of carved wood

The awards recognise the efforts of schools and pupils to support reading for enjoyment and create a reading culture in their school, home or community. All those who submitted this year will receive book tokens, with the winners also receiving a trophy.

The First Minister congratulated pupils and staff at Prestwick Academy for achieving the Reading Inspiration Award, which recognised the school's overall ethos towards reading and the integration of reading across the curriculum.

The First Minister's Reading Challenge was launched in 2016 and is delivered by Scottish Book Trust, the national charity changing lives through reading and writing, on behalf of the Scottish Government.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

'We know that reading contributes hugely to educational attainment and future wellbeing – but it can also foster empathy, creativity and confidence by opening our eyes to new perspectives and possibilities. 

The aim of the Reading Challenge is to support children and young people to develop and expand on a love of reading, and I am absolutely delighted that nearly 600 schools, libraries, and community groups across Scotland took part this year. 

I want to thank all the parents and teachers for their efforts to get children and families involved – and congratulate this year's winners and everyone who participated for all the hard work and imagination they brought to this year's Challenge.'

The national winner, receiving the School Reading Journey Award, was Seaton Primary School from Aberdeen. Their submission was praised for the amount of hard work that went into revamping their library space to create an exciting reading environment. The judges were also impressed with how the school showed creative thinking using book swaps and encouraging excitement around books through the class book boxes. There was a strong sense of pupil voice, both in pupils taking the lead on specific programmes and the school library and in the quotes and feedback.

Marc Lambert, CEO of Scottish Book Trust said:

'Many congratulations to all our winners – there was a wonderful range of submissions showcasing the hard work of pupils, teachers and librarians across Scotland. It's fantastic to see so many schools engage with Scottish Book Trust programmes like Book Week Scotland and Authors Live as part of their Challenge. Building a strong reading culture is critical not only to improve literacy, but also to support wellbeing and develop empathy among young people.'

Ashley Verling, Head Teacher at Seaton Primary School, said:

'Reading is much more visible around the whole school thanks to the First Minister's Reading Challenge. Pupils are building confidence in selecting books and have a growing knowledge of authors and their books. Despite Covid restrictions, we have engaged with parents through Sleepy Seaton and this is something that we will continue to build on.'

The School & Community Partnership national winner was announced as St Brendan's Primary School in North Lanarkshire. The school coordinated visits with the local community across a wide variety of people. The judges praised the pupils' reflection on these visits and stories in their handwritten notes. They were also impressed by the relationship that has been built between St. Brendan's Primary School and the local secondary school and library, and the opportunities this offers both in sharing stories and easing transitions.

The Reading Inspiration Award national winner was announced as Prestwick Academy in South Ayrshire. The school created a transition project using Elle McNicoll's A Kind of Spark to help new S1 pupils, linking to empathy and relationships. Staff used author visits as learning resources and utilised library displays and creative writing to further that learning, as well as make the visits even more special. The school also participated in Read Woke, using Scottish texts and including Scots language, as well as shaping the roll out to primary schools.

There were also four Pupil Reading Journey winners:

Balfron Primary School was recognised as the national winner for the School Reading the Most Books. Taylor, P5 pupil from Bridge of Weir Primary School, was awarded the national winner for the Pupil Reading the Most Books.

Throughout the week, Scottish Book Trust will host the First Minister's Reading Challenge Festival, with digital events that schools can join online via their website. Events include drawing and collaging with author-illustrators Chris Haughton and Rachel Bright; historic writing and drawing with Chae Strathie and Louie Stowell and stories of hope with Keith Gray and Manjeet Mann.

Notes to editors

For more information or images of the winners please contact PR and Marketing Manager Keara Donnachie on keara.donnachie@scottishbooktrust.com(this will open in a new window) or 07956 773749.

Full list of awards:

School Reading Journey Award

National winner: Seaton Primary School, Aberdeen

Highly commended: Killearn Primary School, Stirling

Highly commended: Rosebank Primary School, Dundee

School & Community Partnership Award

National winner: St Brendan's Primary School, North Lanarkshire

Highly commended: Blackwood Primary School, South Lanarkshire

Reading Inspiration Award

National winner: Prestwick Academy, South Ayrshire

Highly commended: Dunfermline High School, Fife

Highly commended: Webster's High School, Angus

Pupil Reading Journey Award


National winner – P1 Pupil Reading Journey: P1 class, Deerpark Primary School, Clackmannanshire

Highly commended: P1 class, Carmuirs Primary School, Falkirk


National winner – P2 Pupil Reading Journey: P2B class, Craigbank Primary School, Clackmannanshire


National winner – P5 Pupil Reading Journey: P5 class, Tulliallan Primary School, Fife

Highly commended: P5, Bankton Primary School, West Lothian

Highly commended: P5 Harper, Findochty Primary School, Moray


National winner – P7 Pupil Reading Journey: P7 Lily-Mae, Findochty Primary School, Moray

Highly commended: P7 Caleb, Findochty Primary School, Moray

Highly commended: P7 Callen, Findochty Primary School, Moray

School Reading the Most Books

National winner: Balfron Primary School, Stirling

Pupil Reading the Most Books

National winner: P5 Taylor, Bridge of Weir Primary School, Renfrewshire

Highly commended: P1 Maja, Carmuirs Primary School, Falkirk

About First Minister's Reading Challenge

The First Minister's Reading Challenge was launched in March 2016 and in its first year was open from August 2016 to March 2017 to all Primary 4 to Primary 7 children in local authority and independent schools across Scotland. In its second year the Challenge was expanded to include primaries 1 to 3, and in its third year, the Challenge was expanded to include Secondary Schools, Libraries and Community Groups.

Scottish Book Trust administers the Challenge, working closely with Education Scotland. It includes book suggestions, learning resources, prizes, case studies and ideas to help young people develop a love of reading, as well as the opportunity to apply for author visits.

Visit the First Minister's Reading Challenge website(this will open in a new window)

@FMReadChallenge on Twitter(this will open in a new window)

Scottish Book Trust

Scottish Book Trust is a national charity that believes everyone living in Scotland should have equal access to books. Our work provides opportunities to improve life chances through books and the fundamental skills of reading and writing. Access to books and a love of books bring many important benefits from family bonding and advancing children’s learning, to unlocking creativity, helping employability and improving mental health & well-being. Scottish Book Trust aims to support all communities across Scotland, with particular focus on those who are vulnerable and under-represented.

Our programmes and outreach work include:

In addition to the funding we receive from the Scottish Government and Creative Scotland, we need the constant support of trusts and foundations, corporate sponsors and individual donors.

Visit the Scottish Book Trust website

Follow Scottish Book Trust on Instagram(this will open in a new window)

Follow Scottish Book Trust on Twitter(this will open in a new window)

Follow Scottish Book Trust on Facebook(this will open in a new window)

Creative Scotland

Creative Scotland is the public body that supports the arts, screen and creative industries across all parts of Scotland distributing funding provided by the Scottish Government and The National Lottery. Further information at the Creative Scotland website(this will open in a new window). Follow us @CreativeScots on Twitter(this will open in a new window), on Creative Scotland Facebook(this will open in a new window) and @CreativeScots on Instagram(this will open in a new window). Learn more about the value of art and creativity in Scotland and join in at Our Creative Voice website(this will open in a new window).