School library services win double award

East Lothian school library services are celebrating a double success in the First Minster’s Reading Challenge 2020-21 announced online by the Children's Laureate and bestselling author of the How To Train Your Dragon series, Cressida Cowell.

The national winner for the School & Community Partnership was Elphinstone Primary School. The judges felt that the partnerships the school built around reading for pleasure were incredibly meaningful and placed reading at the centre of their community with their Elphy Tales project. They worked closely with a local storyteller to embed storytelling into everyday school life, including during lockdown.

Melanie Collier, Principal Teacher, Elphinstone Primary School said:  “The aim of the ‘Elphy Tales’ project was to help create a positive reading culture both within school and at home, through the art of storytelling. Many of our pupils had voiced their enjoyment in listening to authors and storytellers from past one off events and so we wanted to galvanize this love and interest for storytelling over a more prolonged period of time.”

“To promote our community partnerships, which are very important to us at Elphinstone Primary school, we approached the well known and much loved local author and storyteller Tim Porteus to work with our pupils over a 6 month period. This was to help further develop and embed a love of reading within all of our pupils from Nursery to P7. This project would not have been possible without the support from the Scottish Library Information Council (SLIC) who supported us with the School Library Improvement Funding which enabled us to make the magic happen. The impact so far is evident through the detailed pictures they draw in early years to the increased creativity in the imaginative writing from the upper school. This is only the beginning and we cannot wait to continue this storytelling journey with our pupils, and celebrate their reading and writing achievements in the months to come.”

reading for pleasure raises attainment in literacy across the curriculum, improving pupil health and wellbeing Derek France, PLHS Librarian


The national winner for the Reading Inspiration Challenge was Preston Lodge High School in East Lothian. Their entry was put together by their school librarian, Derek France and promoted reading with a variety of events despite the school closure. They ran a Virtual Library Escape Room and lockdown library clubs and the panel commended their creativity and resilience on trying new ideas to keep the whole school reading.

School librarian, Derek France said: "We are delighted to have won The First Minister's Reading Challenge for Secondary Schools - The Reading Inspiration Challenge! The library has initiated and developed Book Clubs and Creative Writing Clubs, shadowing book awards such as The Scottish Teenage Book Prize and the Carnegie Awards, and participating in events such as World Book Day, organising author visits, book cafes, and library lunches while navigating lockdowns and Covid restrictions. It's wonderful to have the intrinsic value of the school library recognised and the impact on students: reading for pleasure raises attainment in literacy across the curriculum, improving pupil health and wellbeing."

Now in its fifth year, the First Minister’s Reading Challenge is run by Scottish Book Trust, the national charity changing lives through reading and writing. 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. All those who submitted this year will receive book tokens, with the winners also receiving a trophy.

Published: Thursday, 17th June 2021