I love reading.
I have loved reading all of my life.
As long as I can remember – on car journeys, rainy school holidays, the dark nights of winter – I’ve needed no excuse to delve into my latest book.
These days, I have less time. But I know what reading gave me during my childhood. And I know what a love of reading led to in terms of opportunities in my life.
So, I want to try and make sure more children gets that opportunity too. Today I launched the First Minister’s Reading Challenge.
From this autumn, children in Primaries 4 to 7 will be encouraged to read as many books as possible each year from a selection chosen by a panel of academics, experts and teachers.
The more books each child reads, the more rewards and prizes on offer.
There’s even going to be an opportunity to submit a book review. [Be warned authors!]
My hope is that the First Minister’s Reading Challenge will play a big part in encouraging this age group to catch the bug for reading. If they do, they’ll keep reading for life.
Research shows that reading for fun and personal enjoyment is more important for a child’s success at school than their family’s socio-economic status.
Reading is also a great leveller – if we can get libraries, publishers and bookstores involved, then we can make sure that no child misses out on taking part and benefiting from becoming an avid reader.
Today is the start of something I want to see grow and grow in the years ahead.
So get involved. Accept the First Minister’s Reading Challenge.
Happy reading everyone!