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School victorious in First Minister's Reading Challenge

By Kyle Ritchie

New Deer School has won an award in the First Minister's Reading Challenge.

The pupils were presented with the accolade for the school reading the most books.

Nineteen schools, one library and one book club were honoured at the celebration ceremony, where prizes were awarded by Ross MacKenzie, author of The Elsewhere Emporium (Floris).

Author Ross MacKenzie presents New Deer School pupils Freya and Mia and parent Angela Verth with their award.
Author Ross MacKenzie presents New Deer School pupils Freya and Mia and parent Angela Verth with their award.

Wilma Mutch, head teacher at New Deer School said: “We are very proud to be receiving this award on behalf of our young people.

"New Deer children have a real love of reading – the school has a buzz about books and our library is a wee safe haven where children can lose themselves in a book.

"All the staff at New Deer promote reading in the school and support our children to foster a genuine reading culture in our school.”

The Minister for Mental Health, Clare Haughey, also joined the celebration event and presented the Reading Inspiration Award.

She also toured the showcase, to view the work that schools, community groups and libraries had completed during their journey. 1195 groups registered for the First Minister’s Reading Challenge, a 20 per cent increase in registrations from the previous year.

The First Minister said: “I’m delighted that more than 1100 primary schools, secondary schools, libraries and community groups from every local authority in Scotland participated in the third year of the First Minister’s Reading Challenge.

“My warm congratulations to all those who have taken part – the submissions demonstrate that Scotland really is a country of readers, and showcase the hard work of the pupils, teachers and librarians who were involved.

“I launched the reading challenge in 2016 to encourage reading for pleasure, which is key to raising attainment and improving literacy.

"Even more schools registered for it this year, and it was wonderful to see so many examples of how a shared reading culture can build and improve relationships within a community.”

New Deer School has a role of 99 pupils and they have read 2544 books over the course of the challenge.

As a school, they have embraced technology in every area of the curriculum, including reading.

Children can scan their books in and out of the library at any time, can read their books digitally, and the school uses an online programme to encourage and foster a love of reading.

There is also pupil engagement, with the PTA supporting its online programme and helping to stock the library. A volunteer parent also works in the library weekly.

The First Minister’s Reading Challenge celebration event took place at the DoubleTree Hilton Hotel in Glasgow.

Now in its third year, the challenge encourages children to read for pleasure and develop a life-long love of books.

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.

Schools, libraries and community groups who submitted to the challenge received a party pack, including certificates signed by the First Minister.

The First Minister's Reading Challenge was launched in 2016 for Primaries 4 to 7 and the third year has expanded to include all primary and secondary schools as well as libraries and community groups.

Scottish Book Trust, the national charity changing lives through reading and writing, delivered the reading initiative on behalf of the Scottish Government and every school in Scotland was invited to take part.

Marc Lambert, CEO of Scottish Book Trust, said: “Congratulations to all those who took part in the First Minister’s Reading Challenge.

"Scottish Book Trust was delighted to see so many secondary schools take part in the challenge for the first time.

"The submissions showcased the fantastic work that schools, libraries and community groups across Scotland have achieved in order to build a reading culture.”

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