Book Week Scotland – November 2020

November 16–22

Book Week Scotland, taking place this year from November 16-22, is a celebration of books, reading, and all things literature. It’s a great excuse to get lost in a great story! Book Week Scotland features hundreds of events spanning across all genres, with workshops, performances, and activities that are sure to inspire even the most flippant readers. Whether you’re a history buff, a budding illustrator, a keen cook, or a sports fanatic, Book Week Scotland has something for everyone!

History of Book Week Scotland

Scotland has a rich history of literature and authors. The earliest extant literature written in what is now Scotland was composed in Brythonic speech in the sixth century and has survived as part of Welsh literature. The Brythonic languages from Welsh are or were spoken on the island of Great Britain and consist of Welsh, Cornish, and Breton. 

In the following centuries there was literature in Latin, under the influence of the Catholic Church, and in Old English, brought by Anglian settlers. During the eighth century, there was a flourishing literary elite who regularly produced texts in both Gaelic and Latin, as the state of Alba developed into the kingdom of Scotland. This elite shared a common literacy culture with Ireland and elsewhere throughout the period.

By the thirteenth century, French language culture predominated, while Norse literature was produced from areas of Scandinavian settlement. The first surviving major text in Early Scots literature is the fourteenth-century poet John Barbour’s epic ‘Brus’, which was followed by a series of jargon versions of medieval romances. More Scottish prose works joined these medieval romances in the fifteenth century.

There was a huge surge of activity in Scottish literature — known as the Scottish Renaissance — in the twentieth century. The leading figure, Hugh MacDiarmid, attempted to revive the Scots language as a medium for serious literature. Members of the movement were followed by a new generation of post-war poets including Edwin Morgan, who was appointed the first Scots Makar by the inaugural Scottish government in 2004. 

From the 1980s Scottish literature enjoyed another major revival, particularly associated with writers including James Kelman and Irvine Welsh. Scottish poets who emerged in the same period included Carol Ann Duffy, who was the first Scot to win the UK Poet Laureate in May 2009. Now, the Scottish Book Trust holds the Book Week Scotland every November. The week features hundreds of free events with authors across the country, as well as an associated writing project in which the public can participate in.

Book Week Scotland timeline

2012
Celebrating reading and writing

Book Week Scotland, the country’s biggest celebration of reading and writing, brings hundreds of events taking place all over Scotland since its kickoff in 2012.

1998
Scottish Book Trust begins

Scottish Book Trust is formed, bringing the benefits of reading and writing through world-class programs and annual awards to over two million people.

1759
Global recognition

Robert Burns, the best-known figure in Scottish literature internationally and regarded as the pioneer of the Romantic movement, is born.

1395
Heroic epics to poignant tragedy

John Barbour, Scottish poet and the first major named literary figure to write in Scots, dies.

Book Week Scotland FAQs

What is Book Week Scotland?

Book Week Scotland is an annual celebration of books and reading that takes place across the country.

What is a bookbug?

Bookbug is the book sharing program delivered in partnership by national reading charity Scottish Book Trust, local authorities, libraries, and health trusts. Bookbug encourages parents and carers to share books with their children from as early an age as possible to inspire a love of reading in every child.

What is World Book Day?

UNESCO selected April 23 as World Book Day to pay tribute to great literary figures including William Shakespeare, Miguel Cervantes and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega who died on this day.

How To Celebrate Book Week Scotland

  1. Have an online book festival

    Bring books to life in your classroom or with children via the Scottish Book Trust's Authors Live on-demand. There are over 50 videos of authors from Julia Donaldson to Jacqueline Wilson. There are resources and activity suggestions for each event!

  2. Hold a reading lunch

    Who says reading is boring? Holding a reading lunch can be as simple as just encouraging your friends or family to read while they’re having their lunch, or you could make more of an event out of it and hold a Bookbug gifting party for students and families receiving their bags during Book Week Scotland. You could always theme the event if you want to get really creative, like a Mad Hatter's Tea Party!

  3. Vote for the best book

    This year, Book Week Scotland is asking the public to nominate their favorite books that could sum up what has happened this year. Be sure to cast your votes by picking some well-known books most of us have heard about or read before!

5 Amazing Facts About Reading

  1. Reading is a form of self-care

    Reading for six minutes a day reduces stress by 68%

  2. Owning books matters a lot

    When children have a home library, as few as 20 books of their own at home, they achieve three more years of schooling than children who don’t have any books at home

  3. We can read fast!

    If we read around 20 minutes a day, we will read 1,800,000 words per year.

  4. Good for our vocabulary

    Children learn 4,000 to 12,000 words per year through reading.

  5. Reading pays off

    Children who read 1,000,000 words a year are in the top two percent of reading achievement.

Why We Love Book Week Scotland

  1. It encourages us to love books

    Working with a wide range of partners, Scottish Book Trust, the national charity changing lives through reading and writing, delivers a diverse range of events and activities during Book Week Scotland. Not only is reading good for us mentally, but it also reminds us that reading is interesting, fun, and diverse.

  2. It’s a reminder of Scottish literature

    For centuries, Scottish writing has been at the forefront of world literature. Scottish literature has also shaped and influenced some of the greatest writers to have ever put pen to paper. During Book Week Scotland, we are reminded of the brilliance of these writers who shaped a lot of the profound literature eras such as the Romantic period. Be sure to appreciate them and read up on their works.

  3. It celebrates diversity

    Book Week Scotland brings people of all ages and walks of life together to share and enjoy books. It is a week of books and reading for everyone, with an exciting range of inspiring, unusual and accessible events with a diverse mix of authors, writers, and illustrators. It is something to celebrate and enjoy!

Book Week Scotland dates

YearDateDay
2020November 16Monday
2021November 16Tuesday
2022November 16Wednesday
2023November 16Thursday
2024November 16Saturday