Scotland's makar leads pledge support for national reading initiative

Keep the Heid and Read! online totaliser launched to capture Scotland-wide support

Scotland’s Makar, Kathleen Jamie, is one of the first people in the country to pledge their support for the Keep the Heid and Read! campaign, which launched today (Monday 11 April).

Joining some of the country’s most influential individuals and organisations, including the Institute of Directors and the SPFL Trust, in pledging to take part in the ‘national reading moment’ on Wednesday 11 May, the Makar was happy to help drive awareness of the project.

The Scotland-wide initiative, led by the Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC) in partnership with the Mental Health Foundation and the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) and with support from Baillie Gifford, aims to inspire and encourage people of all ages and abilities to read every day to boost their mental health and wellbeing – starting with a pledge to read for just six minutes on11 May.

Research shows that reading for six minutes a day can reduce stress by 68 per cent – in people of all ages.  With the national reading moment due to take place during Mental Health Week 2022 (9-15 May 2022), the campaign signals the perfect opportunity to take stock and establish a regular reading habit.

Kathleen Jamie, the national poet for Scotland (2021-2024), said: "Our local libraries are full of great reading material - books of course, but also comics and pamphlets of poetry, so they are the perfect places to release the imagination, whatever your ability and interests.

“Reading for pleasure can have a huge impact on our wellbeing.  I read every day, often early in the morning to set me up for the day, so I'm glad to support the Keep the Heid and Read campaign.  I've pledged my six minutes of reading on 11 May and would encourage everyone else to do the same."

An online totaliser, capturing the number of reading minutes pledged towards the national reading moment, is available at:

Speaking about the inspiration behind the Keep the Heid and Read! campaign, Pamela Tulloch, chief executive at SLIC, said: “This campaign was designed to promote the positive and easy-to-implement changes which can help increase mental health and wellbeing, and highlight the part local libraries can play in that process.

“We believe starting with a simple pledge to read for just six minutes on 11 May will help inspire people to take forward these good habits in their everyday lives.”

Working in partnership with Scotland’s 32 public library services, SLIC hopes the free to use services across Scotland will encourage as many people as possible to get involved in the Keep the Heid and Read! campaign.

Pamela added: “Libraries play a valuable role in reconnecting communities and with the majority of libraries now reopened across Scotland after the pandemic - all with an abundance of free reading materials available - we hope these services will allow people all over Scotland to take part in the national reading moment.”

Individuals and groups, such as schools and workplaces, are invited to sign up now to get involved at, and add to the totaliser count.  Gaelic translated ‘Na bi ga do chall fhèin, leugh!’ campaign materials are also available in full.  Keep up-to-date and share your support using #keeptheheid on social media.