Available to all primary and secondary schools, as well as community groups and libraries, it aims to build positive reading cultures and improve literacy.
Now in its fifth year, the programme is run by national charity Scottish Book Trust. Over a third of all schools in Scotland took part in the challenge last year.
This year, the First Minister’s Reading Challenge aims to support teachers and pupils returning to school after lockdown with additional resources and funding available.
The challenge can assist schools and community groups to establish regular reading routines and activities as young people ease back into education.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “I launched the First Minister’s Reading Challenge to inspire as many young people as possible to discover a joy of reading.
“Reading regularly not only opens the door to new worlds – it improves vital literacy skills, boosts mental health and creativity and can spark a passion and inspiration which can have a lasting impact.
“That is why I want schools and libraries across the country to register for the fifth year of the challenge to help motivate and inspire the next generation of Scotland’s book lovers.”
As well as building literacy, reading helps young people to relax and can provide a form of escapism.
According to a new report by the National Literacy Trust, three in five children and young people said that reading made them feel better during the long months at home in lockdown.
Marc Lambert, CEO of Scottish Book Trust, said: “It has been a difficult year for both teachers and pupils, and we hope the First Minister’s Reading Challenge will be able to offer support and structure to those returning to school for the first time since lockdown.
“Funding will also be available to those who register for the challenge, giving classrooms and community groups the chance to organise their own book event.”
A recent study on teenagers’ reading habits from Scottish Book Trust and Edinburgh University found that reading helped young people to develop empathy and understand other perspectives.
The report supports initiatives such as the First Minister’s Reading Challenge, which builds reading for pleasure into a young person’s school week.
Primary schools, secondary schools, libraries and community groups that register for the challenge will be able to apply for funding to work with an author, illustrator, poet or storyteller. This may be an in person or remote event, a personalised resource or other partnership.
The deadline for applications is Thursday, November 26.
Applicants will have until the end of the school year to use the funds to cover the author fee, travel where necessary and accompanying materials such as books and art supplies to help them make the most of the event.
For more information, to register or apply for funding, visit www.readingchallenge.scot.
Scottish Book Trust is a national charity changing lives through reading and writing. It aims to inspire and support the people of Scotland to read and write for pleasure through programmes and outreach work that includes:
Gifting books to every child in Scotland to ensure families of all backgrounds can share the joy of reading at home.
Working with teachers to inspire children to develop a love of reading, creating innovative classroom activities, book awards and author events.
Supporting Scotland’s diverse writing community with training, awards and writing opportunities.