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Press release: The Scottish Friendly Children's 'Virtual' Book Tour 'unlocks' support for children during lockdown

Events from the Antarctic and Outer Space beamed live into living rooms across the UK

Child on computer

128 schools across 32 local authorities in Scotland have joined the virtual Scottish Friendly Children's Book Tours since the start of lockdown last year, with educational video content viewed over 100,000 times.

The 'Connected': Space tour recently hosted five days of 'out-of-this-world' virtual events, telling the stories of space adventures through science fact and fiction. The digital events took place online from Monday 22 February to Friday 26 February, with schools from Aberdeen, Argyll & Bute, East Renfrewshire, Edinburgh, Falkirk, Glasgow, Moray, Scottish Borders, South Ayrshire and West Lothian signed up for events, reaching over 750 pupils. The events are available to watch on demand via Scottish Book Trust’s website.

The Scottish Friendly Children's Book Tour is supported by Scottish Friendly and organised by Scottish Book Trust, the national charity transforming lives through reading and writing.

For over 20 years the tour has visited schools the length and breadth of the UK, bringing the world's best authors directly in front of children in classrooms. Since COVID-19 the tour has adapted to the restrictions and changing landscape and has gone fully digital to continue vital work in supporting children, reaching around 8,000 P1-S3 pupils.

Fun, educational video content and live events for home learning and in the classroom have to-date reached an audience of over 100,000 through the Scottish Book Trust social media, Home Activities Hub and On Demand library.

Carol Ann Neil, teacher at Bridge of Allan Primary School said:

"Having the opportunity to engage with the Space Explorers event reignited the children's enthusiasm for reading as individuals and as a class team to share stories during the pandemic."

The Connected: Space tour featured a diverse mix of book events, including: illustrator and graphic designer Matt Carr(this will open in a new window), creator of Rocketmole; author and astronomer Dr Sheila Kanani(this will open in a new window) and author Libby Jackson, one of the UK's foremost space experts and author of book Space Explorers.

P5-7 pupils had the opportunity to meet Dr Alastair Bruce, Dynamic Earth's very own resident Astronomer. Joined by Alastair Chisholm(this will open in a new window), author of Orion Lost, pupils took the role of captain and decided the fate of their own space mission.

The previous tour, Connected: Polar, is now available to watch via Scottish Book Trust's On Demand(this will open in a new window) library hub. Events include Sarah Airreiss and British Antarctic Survey, live from the Antarctic and Shackleton's Journey with William Grill and RRS Discovery, Dundee.

The next virtual Connected tour: Continents, will take place Monday 22 March – Friday 25 March. Pupils will have the chance to join events and meet authors live from different parts of the world including Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, North and South America. From celebrating different cultures and languages, to exploring about mythology and magic to drawing manga, the Connected: Continents, tour is jam-packed with fun events for all the family. Schools can find out more and sign up via Scottish Book Trust's website(this will open in a new window). Events will be available to watch later via Scottish Book Trust's On Demand Library.

Kevin Brown, Head of PR at Scottish Friendly, said:

"As soon as the pandemic hit and schools were closed, our number one priority was to provide educational and exciting content to help children, teachers and parents with engaging video content that can be viewed either via live social media streams or at a time of their choosing."

Marc Lambert, CEO of Scottish Book Trust said:

"Scottish Book Trust is delighted to bring the Scottish Friendly Children's Book Tour virtually into classrooms and homes across Scotland. Since the pandemic started a year ago, it has been more important than ever to provide young people with engaging and exciting content.

"The Connected tours aim to transport pupils to new worlds through author events, offering opportunities to spark their creativity and imagination. The feedback from schools and families has been fantastic, and our On Demand library allows anyone to watch the tour, at any time, and no matter their location."

Notes to Editors

For all press queries, please contact:

Keara Donnachie Keara.Donnachie@scottishbooktrust.com(this will open in a new window) or call 07956 773749.

About Scottish Friendly

Scottish Friendly is one of the UK's largest mutual life offices. At Scottish Friendly we believe saving and investing should be for everyone, which is why we offer a range of affordable

investment and savings products to help individuals and their families achieve their financial goals.

Scottish Friendly has sponsored the programme for the past 20 years, touring some of the finest children's authors and illustrators including former Children's Laureate Chris Riddell, Malorie Blackman, Michael Rosen, Jacqueline Wilson, Melvin Burgess, Steve Cole, Michael Morpurgo and Sophie McKenzie.

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.

www.scottishbooktrust.com(this will open in a new window) @scottishbktrust www.facebook.com/scottishbktrust(this will open in a new window)