Join in Keep the Heid and Read! challenge to improve your mental health

For book lovers of all ages this is a challenge not to be missed.

Friday, 29th April 2022, 5:30 pm

Can you spend six minutes on Wednesday, May 11 reading?

If so, then why not sign up for the national ‘Keep the Heid and Read!’ campaign.

Launched in March on World Book Day, it’s a new Scotland-wide reading initiative to inspire and encourage people to read every day to boost their mental health and wellbeing.

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People are being asked to pledge to read for six minutes on May 11

All you have to do is make a reading pledge on the Keep the Heid website, which includes entering your location. Those who pledge are also in the running for £100 in book tokens.

And the staff at Falkirk Libraries are keen to have as many local people to sign up as possible – they can read anything, from books and magazines to comics, graphic novels and blogs.

They’ve also organised some storytelling events with primary school pupils at Bo’ness and Grangemouth libraries on May 11.

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Louise Graham, Falkirk Library Services Team Leader, said: “During lockdown we really missed our customers, and they’ve told us they really missed us – and their books – too.

“A good book is something with tremendous power - a poem to soothe, facts to amaze or stories that open up new worlds: just six minutes reading a day can reduce stress by 68 per cent.

“That’s partly why we’re so excited to support ‘Keep the Heid and Read!’

“You can join in online and pledge your six minutes of reading on May 11 – and you can read anywhere!

“We would love to see you in the library and if you’re stuck for ideas any of our friendly staff would be delighted to help you choose something fantastic from a wide choice of high quality books for all ages.”

The idea was inspired by the post-lockdown plea for public libraries to reopen and the growing recognition that libraries play a valuable role in supporting mental health and wellbeing by connecting communities.

It is taking place during Mental Health Week because of the known mental and emotional health benefits of reading. Research shows that reading for just six minutes a day can reduce stress by 68 per cent.

The reading campaign is led by the Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC) in partnership with the Mental Health Foundation, the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) and Scotland’s 32 public library services.

Pamela Tulloch, chief executive at SLIC said: “The reading moment came about from an awareness that people have missed their libraries during the pandemic, coupled with the joy and benefits people gain from reading. It is the most popular cultural activity people undertake and, during the lockdown, reading was the nation’s most popular pastime.

“We want everyone to get involved on May11 by pledging to read for six minutes. It is a great way for people to reconnect with their local libraries, which offer an abundance of free reading material and library staff can make recommendations based on reading ability and interests.

"Getting lost in a good book is a highly effective stress reliever and reading fiction, in particular, can inspire creativity and boost emotional intelligence, not to mention improve overall levels of literacy.”