The Need for Our Work

Reading and writing transform lives.

Reading and writing are the most important factors in reducing the attainment gap, improve mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and dementia, and influence our work, relationships and the economy.

Inequality and Literacy

1 in 4 children in Scotland are growing up in poverty and the problem is getting worse.

Children from deprived backgrounds often do not go on to higher education and are likely to earn less over the course of their lives.

At Scottish Book Trust, we know that the learning gap begins long before children reach school:

  • By the age of three, children from the most prosperous households have heard 30 million more words spoken throughout their lifetime than children from impoverished households.
  • When they are five, the vocabulary of children from low-income households is typically more than a year behind those from high-income backgrounds.

Helping children to develop a lifelong love of reading can reverse this situation, helping to break the cycle of poverty and improve their life chances.

Children who are read to every day by their parents and carers have been shown to be almost 12 months ahead of their age group by the time they start school. Even reading to children two or three times a week can make a significant contribution to their development.

Reading with very young children is about so much more than just literacy. It also develops bonding and attachment in families, making children more relaxed and happy, and more confident in communicating with their parents. This bonding is essential for a child’s learning.


Mental Health Benefits

Scotland is facing a mental health and wellbeing crisis. One in three people suffer from mental illness each year, and the number of people with dementia is set to double in the next 25 years.

Reading and writing for pleasure has incredible benefits for mental health:

  • Just six minutes of reading can reduce stress by 68%.
  • Reading is linked to preventing and slowing the onset of dementia.
  • Reading and creative writing improve empathy, communication and self-esteem and reduce anxiety and depression
  • Reading fiction can model ways of coping with alienation or problems at school, work or in relationships.
  • Reading creates a greater empathy with other sectors of society and with other cultures, which can help tackle social problems such as xenophobia, sectarianism and racism and create a more tolerant, civic-minded society.


Our Work

We are working for a Scotland where everyone has an equal opportunity to thrive, no matter what their background. We want to turn Scotland into a nation of readers and develop our country’s writing talent.

But we can’t do it without you. We need your help to continue our work. Fundraise for us.


Alzheimer Scotland
'Closing the attainment gap in Scottish education’, Joseph Rowntree Foundation
Millennium Cohort Study
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, ‘Reading for Change’
Save the Children
University of Sussex Mindlab research