School libraries offer ‘shelf help’ to young people


Tuesday, 27 February, 2018


On World Book Day (1 March) East Dunbartonshire Council will launch its

‘Shelf Help – You are not alone’ initiative in its eight secondary schools to promote teenage mental health and social wellbeing.

The initiative is funded by the Scottish Government’s new School Library Improvement Fund* which supports and provides additional resources for innovative projects such as this. A grant of £5,690 has been awarded.

School Librarians from across the Council area worked together to develop the idea to show pupils - through fiction and shared reading/writing – that they are not alone when dealing with challenges in their lives.

Over the coming months, pupils will be invited to write about a book which has helped them through a difficult time or has made an impact on them. Their contributions will be compiled in a booklet ‘The Book that saved my Life’ which will be launched during Book Week Scotland in November.

Depute Chief Executive, Education, People & Business, Ann Davie, said, “This is a wonderful concept covering such an important topic for young people. The power of good story-telling has the potential to influence and change lives. Encouraging young people in the direction of books with which they can identify is a hugely positive step.

“Our school librarians have tapped into an area that will chime with young people, allowing them a platform to express themselves and find ways to cope with the complex mental health and wellbeing issues they may be facing. This project will promote a reading culture in our schools by challenging pupils to read books they may not have chosen for themselves and shows the school library as a key resource for health and wellbeing.”

In September, S3 pupils in all eight schools will have a visit from teen mental health expert Natasha Devon MBE. The writer and campaigner, who has dedicated her life to promoting positive mental health, body image, gender and social equality, will visit schools to discuss mental health awareness and resilience.

Also as part of the initiative, librarians and pupils will work together to produce online fiction reading lists that feature characters dealing with mental health and wellbeing issues. Two recommended titles in this range are 'Wonder' by R.J. Palacio which looks at bravery, courage and being different and 'A Monster Calls' by Patrick Ness which discusses love, loss and hope for the future.

*   The School Library Improvement Fund provides additional resources for innovative projects that focus on reader development, digital creativity, information literacy or health and social wellbeing.

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