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WATCH: First Minister Nicola Sturgeon joins Dolly Parton to help Scottish children to love reading


By David G Scott

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has recorded a story for families with young children to launch a partnership between charities Children 1st and the Dollywood Foundation UK (DFUK), and the public to spark the love of reading in every child in Scotland.

Families can enjoy the First Minister’s reading of the Ladybird book Mabel and the Mountain by Kim Hillyard on Children 1st’s website. The story tells the story of Mabel, a small fly with big plans who knows she shouldn’t give up.

Nicola Sturgeon’s recording is the first in a series of children’s stories read by well-known book lovers, to be shared by the charities in the coming months. As well as listening to each new story, members of the public will be encouraged to give a monthly gift of £10 to inspire a love of reading among pre-school children whose families may not have access to books at home.

The wonderful Dolly Parton brings the joy of reading to children.
The wonderful Dolly Parton brings the joy of reading to children.

The Literacy Trust estimates that over 383,000 children and young people in the UK do not have a book of their own. According to the Trust up to 50 per cent of children in disadvantaged areas start school without the language skills they need to progress.

With the public’s support the charities will deliver a free book, by post, to a child from their birth to their fifth birthday. Alongside the books, children and their families will also be offered the practical and emotional support they need to keep their children safe and support their wellbeing and development.

Mary Glasgow, Children 1st, chief executive said: “Children 1st are thrilled and excited to be working with Dolly and her team at the Imagination Library in Scotland to spark a love of reading in every young child.

Dolly Parton reading Mabel and the Mountain to various assorted children.
Dolly Parton reading Mabel and the Mountain to various assorted children.

“Cuddling up and reading a book together is a great way for families to build loving, strong relationships. Our partnership with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library will bring books to thousands of children who are missing out on the joy of stories because they do not have the same access to books that other families enjoy.

"We hope that every young family in Scotland will enjoy the stories on our website and that book lovers of all ages will support us to share the love of reading and to help young families to recover from the impact of the pandemic.”

A poll by the Literacy Trust showed that almost sixty percent of UK children said that reading made them feel better during the pandemic and a third said it helped them when they were feeling sad.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Inspiring a love of reading from a young age can positively impact mental health and creativity and help to improve vital literacy skills.

A child reads the book.
A child reads the book.

“Reading for pleasure can also bring joy and comfort during even the most difficult times which is why I am very pleased to help launch this new initiative."

With the public’s support, the charities hope to work with more than 700 children and their families in the first year of their partnership.

Kirsty Hill, DFUK, regional director said: “Dolly Parton’s commitment to support the growth of the Imagination Library here in the UK means we can share the joy of reading with more and more children each year."

Families can watch the First Minister’s story and donate to Give the Love of Reading at: www.children1st.org.uk/imaginationlibrary


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