Denny High and library staff take award in First Minister's Reading Challenge

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A project with school pupils and staff at a public library has won a national reading award.

Scottish Book Trust, the national charity changing lives with reading and writing, has today announced this year’s winners of the First Minister’s Reading Challenge with Denny Library and Denny High School winning the Library Reading Culture Challenge for their collaborative Young Adult Reading Group project.

The library and school worked together to create a reading group for young people in the community, covering a range of age groups, interests and reading abilities. The judging panel praised the group’s engagement with other local community groups and strong promotion within the school and were pleased to hear that the group continues to grow with the library reporting increased borrowing and new pupil volunteers.

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The First Minister’s Reading Challenge was established in 2016, and celebrates the reading journeys of schools, libraries, and community groups across Scotland. The Challenge is run by Scottish Book Trust, working with Education Scotland. It includes book suggestions, learning resources, prizes, case studies and ideas to help young people develop a love of reading, as well as the opportunity to apply for funded author visits.

Pupils with the trophy for the Denny Library and Denny High School Young Adult Reading Group project.Pupils with the trophy for the Denny Library and Denny High School Young Adult Reading Group project.
Pupils with the trophy for the Denny Library and Denny High School Young Adult Reading Group project.

Debbie Scott, senior library assistant at Denny Library, said: “Adjusting to life post pandemic has been tough for us all, but especially so for young people. That is why we wanted to do something for local teenagers. We decided a reading group would be a great way to harness the power of books to support mental health and wellbeing.

“Working with Denny High School, we launched the reading group in October last year. The group meets once a week in Denny Library. It provides a safe space to socialise and share a love of reading, while also offering pupils the opportunity to discuss and debate the big issues contained within the pages of a wide and diverse range of books.

“The young people have all grown in confidence since coming to the meetings and have made new friends. It really is such a joy to see them grow. We couldn’t be prouder of them. This award is 100 per cent for them. It's great recognition of what they have achieved individually and as a group.”

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Marc Lambert, CEO of Scottish Book Trust, said: “Many congratulations to this year’s First Minister’s Reading Challenge winners, as well as to those who were highly commended. Reading for pleasure supports attainment across the curriculum – as well as boosting empathy, wellbeing and critical thinking – and we are delighted to see how schools, libraries and community groups have used the Challenge to develop their reading cultures.”

Pupils from Denny High School pictured with Debbie Scott from Denny Library, left, and Wendy Barr from Denny High School Library, rightPupils from Denny High School pictured with Debbie Scott from Denny Library, left, and Wendy Barr from Denny High School Library, right
Pupils from Denny High School pictured with Debbie Scott from Denny Library, left, and Wendy Barr from Denny High School Library, right

Cecil Meiklejohn, leader of Falkirk Council, commended Denny Library and Denny High School for working together to launch the reading group that has not only inspired young minds but also helped participants being to write a new chapter in their lives post-COVID.

Councillor Meiklejohn said: "Fantastic things can be achieved when council services combine their skills and knowledge to create initiatives tailored to local need. What the book group has achieved is highly commendable. It has helped the young people grow their love of reading and made them more comfortable to speak, debate and listen, which are all essential life skills. It has also opened their eyes to the joy of visiting their local library."

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