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Visiting Speaker: Philippa Cochrane

March 31st, 2017 | Posted in Blog | No Comments »
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Call me biased but I believe every child should be read to from an early age. It’s fun, it’s key to development, it’s educational and it’s also a great way to establish relationships.

After today’s visiting speaker, I can’t highlight that enough. We were joined by Head of Reader Development at the Scottish Book Trust, Philippa Cochrane and I’ve never been so thankful for the support in Scotland for readers and writers.

Their main aim is to change lives through reading and writing with an incredible number of programmes such as Bookbug, Read Write Count, What’s Your Story and Reading People. It is obvious that the Scottish Book Trust are working hard to achieve this but Philippa was quick to point out one frightening fact: children who are not read to from an early age have a language deficit of 50,000 words compared to a child who is. It’s not meant to frighten parents to read to their children or be controversial, it’s true. Every child should have the same opportunities and help in their early development but sadly it’s not always the case.

I have my mother to blame (or love) for my book addiction. She pretty much had a bookshelf of baby books for me before I was born and for most of my life books have been an important part of our household. It’s one of the main reasons I’m so adamant that reading to a child is important: it helps to give a child the best start in life and helps develop skills necessary for educational and social purposes. It certainly helped me. These types of programmes and opportunities were not available when I was growing up and it’s amazing to see the support for readers and writers in Scotland has grown so well but it also needs to continue to make sure that everyone has the same opportunity to grow and develop by reading.

The Scottish Book Trust is responsible for a number of programmes such as Bookbug, First Ministers Reading Challenge, Read Write Count, What’s Your Story, Book Week Scotland, Annual Story Campaign, book tours, author tours, live sessions and interactions with authors/readers. It faces challenges, as do most arts based charities, but they do receive donations, sponsorship and funding from not only the Scottish Government but also individuals, companies, trusts and foundations.

One of their most recognisable campaigns is Book Week Scotland which held over 1000 events across Scotland with a 150,000-book giveaway, a Scottish book-to-screen-adaption competition and even a book dare where a reader is given a book themed dare to complete (Philippa proudly displayed the tattoo she had done because of her dare but don’t worry they aren’t all like that!). It’s a fantastic event and is gaining more popularity every year to the delight of the publishing industry.

The Scottish Book Trust want to make sure that children are developing by reading, helping aspiring authors gain help and advice they need to achieve their dream, help people (not just children) who struggle with reading or loneliness by interacting with them and aiding them but not by shoving a handful of books at people or a leaflet offering advice – through several events, programmes and campaigns.

For me, reading is important especially at a young age and hopefully these events and campaigns continue to help families across Scotland develop.

by Shaunna Whitters

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