Reading Force Ambassador in Scotland

//Reading Force Ambassador in Scotland

In this blog our Ambassador in Scotland, Fiona Maxwell (aka The Book Lady!), shares the highlights of her Reading Force life…

Hi everyone, I’m Fiona Maxwell and I have had a wonderful time working as the Reading Force Ambassador in Scotland for the past five years. If asked what the highlight of my job is, I would have to say it is getting out and about all over Scotland meeting families and chatting to parents, grandparents, children and young people about the fun of reading and sharing stories. 

In the case of serving families, I work mainly with welfare organisations to be able to attend a variety of events such as Families’ Days/Lunches, children’s Christmas parties, coffee mornings and mums and tots groups. This year I have also been to a Colours Parade and a Teddy Bear’s Picnic – it’s nothing if not varied! 

At each event, having had a good workout carrying boxes and boxes of books, scrapbooks, Reading Journals, leaflets, etc. from the car to the event location (sometimes close, sometimes not!), I set them all out in roughly age order. This lets children (with a parent’s or carer’s help if needs be) and young people choose their books, which is a great opportunity to chat with them about what they like reading and, if they ask, to make some suggestions.

Having chosen their books, they can opt for a yellow or green Reading Force tote bag to put them in, together with a scrapbook or Reading Journal (for tweens and teens), a bookmark, a Hints and Tips leaflet for what to do in a scrapbook (for younger readers) and a Reading Force leaflet so they can help to spread the word! I also ask parents and carers to fill in a form giving their name and address, names and ages of the child(ren) and the book(s) chosen.

This enables us to keep a record of all the books we give/send out so that, when families request books again, we know what they have had already and can send them something different. 

So, what are popular book choices?

Percy the Park Keeper, Harry and the Dinosaurs, Winnie the Witch and The Dinosaur that Pooped series are popular picture books, as are Britta Teckentrup’s beautifully illustrated books Tree, Sea, Bee and Moon. For readers age 7 and above, the Zoe’s Rescue Zoo books fly out of the boxes, along with the Storey Treehouse ones and Emma Carroll’s books which include Secrets of the Sun King and When We Were Warriors. I try to have a few of Enid Blyton’s Adventure books on display as I find they are great book-chat starters with many parents and grandparents saying ‘I used to love Enid Blyton when I was growing up and have read all the Famous Five, Secret Seven, Mallory Towers, etc.’ The Adventure books aren’t as popular as, for example, the Charlie Bone ones, but they still disappear! 

I also work with Veterans charities to attend Families’ Day, breakfast clubs and lunch clubs where I have set up my stall in such places as barns, stables and woods – it all adds to the fun! Grandparents, as well as parents, children and young people can then choose books, many grandparents saying they look after grandchildren on a regular basis and reading together is something they love to do.  

In terms of response, it is always positive in terms of the selection of books on offer, and the fact that they are free – and new. Parents sometimes ask if they have to return the books but, when hearing that they can keep them, some say they will find other families they can swap books with.

Invariably, at the end of the day, when I’m packing up, several children come over to say ‘Thankyou for the books’. I think it goes without saying that my job is great! 

If you live in Scotland and would like me to visit your event, you can get in touch with me – or call 07548 778 930.