Vivian French Receives Outstanding Achievement Award

Vivian and Eileen
Category: Press Releases

Head Teacher Eileen Littlewood also recognised at Scottish Book Trust Awards


Scottish Book Trust, the national charity changing lives through reading and writing, is delighted to announce the recipients of the 2018 Outstanding Achievement Award and Learning Professional Award. These are given annually to one author or illustrator, and one learning professional, who have had an inspiring impact on young readers in Scotland.

The Scottish Book Trust Awards, in association with Browns Books for Students, will take place tonight (6 March 2018) at Dovecot Studios in Edinburgh from 6pm. Guests include authors, teaching professionals, and representatives from publishing, libraries, the Scottish Government and BBC Scotland Learning.

Alongside the Outstanding Achievement and Learning Professional, awards will also be presented to the winners of the Bookbug Picture Book Prize and the Scottish Teenage Book Prize, which were announced in January and February.


Outstanding Achievement Award – Vivian French

The author or illustrator nominated for the Outstanding Achievement Award is an individual with an impressive backlist, a long record of engaging with their audience, and meaningful engagement with the writing community.

Vivian French is an Edinburgh-based writer of picture books, fiction, non-fiction, plays and poetry for children and teenagers. In 2016, she was awarded an MBE for services to literature, literacy, illustration and the arts. Vivian has written over 270 titles for children – including the picture book Oliver's Vegetables and The Tiara Club series of chapter books illustrated by Sarah Gibb, which have sold more than three million copies internationally.

The award panel was impressed by Vivian’s consistent hard work to promote books by other authors and illustrators. She is not only an inspiring figure to those in the industry, but has also acted as a mentor and offered support to budding authors and artists. Vivian is an active advocate for issues such as dyslexia and has had a positive influence on many working in the publishing sector.

In 2012, Vivian and Lucy Juckes set up Picture Hooks, a mentoring scheme to encourage emerging Scottish illustrators. The five chosen illustrators work with their mentor for a year, with an exhibition of their work at the National Gallery of Scotland at the end. The scheme also involves a conference, giving a wider group of emerging illustrators a chance to hear from publishers and network.

Vivian has been Children’s Writer-in-Residence at Edinburgh International Book Festival five times and a guest selector for the children’s programme. Vivian also teaches at Edinburgh College of Art in the illustration department and is a Patron of the Borders Book Festival.

On her award, Vivian French said: “I have the most wonderful time visiting schools and festivals, tutoring young illustrators, talking (always talking!) and discussing books and pictures... surely such an award should be for someone who’s earned it by the sweat of their brow? Not someone like me, who skips about having such a very lovely time! I’m not ungrateful - truly I’m not - it’s the most amazing award to be given... but I’m going to redouble my efforts now to ensure that I really deserve it.”

In support of the award being made to Vivian, illustrator Ross Collins said: “Vivian held my hand through my first Edinburgh Book Festival experience, and she gave me the confidence to keep doing events after that. I was lucky to be involved in Picture Hooks, the scheme for young illustrators, which Vivian started.”


Learning Professional Award – Eileen Littlewood

The Learning Professional Award recognises a teacher or librarian who goes above and beyond the call of duty to pass on the ‘reading for pleasure’ message to the next generation, and who works tirelessly to inspire children to read and write.

Eileen Littlewood, Head Teacher of Forthview Primary School in Edinburgh, has transformed the reading culture amongst her pupils and their parents. She was nominated for the award by Evelyn Love-Gajardo, Development Officer for Literacy Strategy in Edinburgh.

Before Eileen started in the post, the school library had been dismantled, and the nearest public library was not within safe walking distance for the pupils. In order to create her vision of a fine, in-house library catering for all ages, Eileen applied for SG Access to Education Fund and the Foyle Foundation. By securing over £10k of funding, Eileen was able to start a reading community within Forthview and West Pilton.

Eileen also supported Tracey Berry, Family Support Teacher, in starting a parent book group, and utilised Quick Reads and comic books to engage parents who were reluctant to read. This has had a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of parents, and also improved their children’s engagement with reading as a family.

Eileen has established a paired reading initiative and also organised visits to the school from authors including John Fardell and Lari Don. Eileen is passionate about the idea that reading can change the lives of pupils, and has ensured her staff are trained to deliver excellent reading projects. Eileen also runs a lunchtime book club for pupils who are keen readers, as well as regular writing workshops.

Recently, Eileen has worked with parents to create a book of poems on mental health to share with their children. The parents involved have all had issues with anxiety themselves, and the book was launched at the National Library of Scotland at the start of February with Deputy First Minister John Swinney.

On her award, Eileen Littlewood said: “I was quite overwhelmed when I heard that colleagues had nominated me for this award and very excited when I heard I had been selected as winner. I know what commitment to promoting literacy and reading many of my colleagues show every day in their work. Reading for enjoyment is the key to success – academic success and success in life. It is a source of joy I want to share with others. Winning this award is a crowning accomplishment for me.”

Susan Morton, who won the Learning Professional Award in 2017 and was a member of the award panel for 2018, said: “Congratulations to Eileen. Her inspiring work with children and their families demonstrates that reading for pleasure can have such a positive impact. Eileen has found innovative ways to engage her school community in reading and writing with outstanding results. The award is truly well-deserved!”

A pupil from Forthview Primary School said: “Mrs Littlewood always selects the right books and levels for us to read. She knows all the books in the library. All the books she selects for book group are amazing.”

A parent from Forthview Primary School said: “Eileen talked to me about the book café… I tried it and started reading ‘Quick Reads’. I related to the girl in the book because she had depression too like me. It’s helped my mind and my health.”

This is the second year of the Scottish Book Trust Awards, set up to recognise and celebrate excellence in inspiring young people in Scotland. Last year’s Outstanding Achievement Award was given to Mairi Hedderwick, author and illustrator of the Katie Morag book series.

Marc Lambert, CEO at Scottish Book Trust, said: “I am delighted to announce Vivian and Eileen as this year’s recipients of Scottish Book Trust Awards. Both have shown years of dedication in inspiring and involving young people in the magical and life-enhancing power of books and reading. They have had a profound impact in bringing books, storytelling and creativity into the lives of many, and helped create a culture of reading in communities. In recognising them, we hope their efforts will inspire others too, to share books and a love of reading.”

Claire Smith, Sales Manager for Browns Books for Students, said: “It’s been another wonderful year working with Scottish Book Trust and being part of highlighting the wonderful work of people dedicated to raising literacy in Scotland.  Congratulations to both Vivian and Eileen on winning these awards.” 

Alan Bett, Literature Officer at Creative Scotland, said: Congratulations to both winners for their outstanding achievements. Eileen Littlewood has, through encouraging reading for pleasure, revolutionised the reading culture amongst her pupils and the parents who support and encourage this important pastime. Vivian French is a celebrated author who is further recognised here, with a long history of not only creating work herself, but inspiring and mentoring others to write, illustrate and publish. These awards acknowledge the dedication and impact the recipient’s work is having on young people.”




Notes to Editors

For more information or interview requests, please contact Lindsay Clydesdale, Media and PR Manager at Scottish Book Trust, on 0131 524 0175 or


Images of Vivian French and Eileen Littlewood are available to download here:


Scottish Book Trust

Scottish Book Trust is a national charity changing lives through reading and writing. We inspire and support the people of Scotland to read and write for pleasure through programmes and outreach work that include:

  • Gifting books to every child in Scotland to ensure families of all backgrounds can share the joy of books at home.
  • Working with teachers to inspire children to develop a love of reading, creating innovative classroom activities, book awards and author events.
  • Supporting Scotland’s diverse writing community with our training, awards and writing opportunities.
  • Funding a range of author events for the public to enjoy and promoting Scottish writing to people worldwide.   @scottishbktrust


Scottish Book Trust Awards

The Scottish Book Trust Awards in association with Browns Books for Students, will be awarded annually. More information is available at


Browns Books For Students

Browns Books for Students, sponsor of the Bookbug Picture Book Prize, supplies books, eBooks and DVDs for schools, colleges and businesses. More information on Browns Books for Students is available at


Creative Scotland

Creative Scotland is the public body that supports the arts, screen and creative industries across all parts of Scotland on behalf of everyone who lives, works or visits here. We enable people and organisations to work in and experience the arts, screen and creative industries in Scotland by helping others to develop great ideas and bring them to life. We distribute funding provided by the Scottish Government and the National Lottery. For further information about Creative Scotland please visit  Follow us @creativescots and