Looking for more in Reading and Stories or Our research?

First Minister's Reading Challenge evaluation

Read the independent evaluation of the 2021/22 First Minister's Reading Challenge programme

The First Minister's Reading Challenge (FMRC) first launched in 2016. This programme is designed to encourage pupils to read for pleasure and to develop a life-long love of reading.  

This independent evaluation of the 2021/22 programme, provided by The Lines Between, covers the successes and challenges of the past six years, examining school involvement, achievements, and individual stories. It also outlines the connection between FMRC and another Scottish Book Trust programme, Reading Schools, to assess the long-term impact of creating a reading culture within our schools and wider communities.

Read the full report (An accessible plain text version is available at the bottom of the page)

  • 4/5> of school staff felt empowered to encourage reading for pleasure, had directly encouraged pupils to read for pleasure or had developed new techniques to support this as a result of FMRC
  • 123 schools on average per year submitted an entry to the Reading Challenge over the six years of the programme
  • 97% of participating schools reported an increase in reading for pleasure and an improved reading culture
  • 100% of local authorities represented in school registrations

Key conclusions

First Minister's Reading Challenge has demonstrated that there is a clear link between the programme, and pupils enjoying discovering and sharing a knowledge and love of books.  

Infographic: Teachers were overwhelmingly positive about the impact of FMRC in their classrooms. In interviews, school staff were asked to share three words that summed up FMRC. The words they chose were: rewarding, inspiring, positive, books, brilliant, pleasure, exciting, engaging, challenging, wide-ranging, interest, supportive, enthusiasm, competitive, inclusive, knowledge, motivating

FMRC began as a programme supporting P4-P7 students, but has expanded with each new school academic year to eventually include secondary schools and libraries and community groups. Its aims are diverse, including the development of reading cultures through the wider community, supporting attainment, sustaining reading for pleasure across the curriculum, developing pupil voice and leadership, and platforming public libraries.

The findings indicate that the critical success factors of the programme include: 

Infographic: 87% of participating schools reported that FMRC helped pupils read more widely

Infographic: 94% of schools said that pupils read for pleasure more because of FMRC

Infographic quotation: 'Between the First Minister's Reading Challenge and Reading Schools, I've seen how a programme like that with the flexibility built-in can change the culture of a school and can engage kids who before were just not engaging with the library or book s and now they are. That's a phenomenal thing."

Infographic quotation: 'Since establishing an approach to encouraging the practice of reading for pleasure, there's been much more of kind of willingness to immerse themselves in reading.'