Everybody’s Taking About – Winter

The Stick Man Trail

Much-loved picture book character Stick Man is featuring in a new free activity trail at Polbeth and West Calder Community Garden, to encourage children to ‘branch out’ and explore the natural world. Stick Man, created by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, will be appearing around the garden and woodland of the Garden for Life as part of a pilot scheme devised for community nature sites across the UK. The initiative is part of campaign called Local Heroes, which aims to get more people, including children, involved with their local community growing groups, such as city farms, community gardens, woods, forest and orchards. The Community Garden has been chosen as the first venue in Scotland to launch the self-guided trail, which offers an interactive learning experience for three to seven year olds to go on their own adventure with the character, find out about the natural world and learn how things grow. It’s hoped that, if the pilot trails are successful, the scheme can be expanded so that thousands of parents and young children will ‘twig’ how much fun an outdoor adventure can be and become new and regular visitors to their own local growing group. To find out more about the Local Heroes campaign, visit growingtogether.community/stick-man

Polbeth and West Calder Community Garden welcomed children from nearby nursery schools as well as local Beavers, Cubs, Rainbows and Brownies for the launch event.

More than half of parents have no will

More than half of parents in the UK with children under 18 have made no will, a new survey has revealed. The study, carried out by Will Aid, found that 54 per cent of mums and dads have not prepared this vital piece of paperwork. There is a big variation in areas across the UK, with 65 per cent of Scottish parents without wills, yet, in Central London, only 29 per cent of parents are without a will.

Peter de Vena Franks, campaign director for Will Aid, said: “Writing a will is an opportunity for a parent or parents to leave instructions about who they would like their child to be cared for by in the event of their death. If you die without appointing a guardian, and there is no other parent with parental responsibility, an application would need to be made to the court to decide with whom your child will live, in the event of a dispute about this. Preparing a correctly worded will with a solicitor is the best way to ensure your wishes are carried out.”

During Will Aid Month in November solicitors across the country waive their fees for will writing services so their clients can donate to the charity partnership and support nine worthy causes. Last year Will Aid raised more than £1.2 million for its charity partners – ActionAid, Age UK, British Red Cross, Christian Aid, NSPCC, Save the Children, Sightsavers, SCIAF (Scotland) and Trocaire (Northern Ireland). The suggested voluntary donation for a basic Will Aid will is £95 for a single will and £150 for a pair of mirror wills. Will Aid patron Dame Judi Dench added: “A will is a gift you can leave for those you love. If you choose to make your will with a Will Aid solicitor you could also be giving a loving gift to the thousands of children, families and communities helped by the Will Aid charities. When it comes to making a Will, my advice is simple: Carpe Diem.”

You can book an appointment via willaid.org.uk or by calling Tel: 0300 0309 558.

Support nine worthy causes in November via Will Aid

Book Week Scotland

Working with a wide range of partners, national charity Scottish Book Trust will deliver a huge range of events and activities across the country during Book Week Scotland 2017, which runs from November 27 to December 3, all linked to this year’s theme of Nourish.

Central to the week is the events programme which includes hundreds of diverse opportunities for all ages and interests. Author events include some of the UK’s best-known writers and illustrators visiting libraries in every local authority and well-known personalities such as Judy Murray and BBC travel presenter Paul Murton will also be making an appearance.

Edinburgh libraries are hosting Matthew Fitt reading extracts from his new translation into Scots of JK Rowling’s novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and a rare first edition of the second book in the series, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, signed by JK Rowling, is among exclusive items which will be auctioned to raise funds for Scottish Book Trust’s programmes.

During Book Week Scotland schools and communities across the country will be encouraged to hold a book sale or book swish, in aid of Scottish Book Trustand the three picture books shortlisted for the Bookbug Picture Book Prize will be gifted to every Primary 1 pupil in Scotland in the Bookbug P1 Family Bag. Free bags of books, writing materials and counting games will also be gifted to all Primary 2 and Primary 3 pupils. These bags, produced in partnership with Education Scotland and the Scottish Government as part of ‘Read, Write, Count’, provide fun materials for parents and children to use in support of learning at home. Children can also tune in to watch award-winning novelist for children and young people, Phil Earle in a special Authors Live webcast on Tuesday November 28 at 11am.

Spoken Word artist Deanna Rodger will be touring schools across the country in a Book Week Scotland Roadshow, holding events around cultural identity, tying in with the Nourish theme by looking at the ingredients that make us who we are.

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “Scottish Book Trust is delivering some innovative work to make reading more accessible and help ensure everyone in Scotland has an opportunity to enjoy reading. As this year’s edition shows, Book Week Scotland continues to go from strength to strength, engaging with a varied public – from world-renowned authors and publishers to schools, communities and individuals – and encouraging a nation-wide love of books and reading. There are few pleasures greater than getting lost in the magic of books and, especially during 2017 Book Week Scotland,I encourage everyone in Scotland to commit to picking up a book.”

For more information about Book Week Scotland 2017 and how you can get involved, visit bookweekscotland.com where you can find information about all the events taking place in your local area.

Iconic fictional characters from Alice in Wonderland, Treasure Island and The Handmaid’s Tale tuck into a good book in celebration of Book Week Scotland

Huge expansion of free early learning and childcare

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has reaffirmed the Scottish Government’s commitment to invest in a near doubling of entitlement to 1140 hours – around 30 hours a week – of free early learning and childcare from August 2020.

Spending on childcare will double to £840 million a year by 2021-22 in a bid to transform the life chances of children in Scotland. The move will ensure high-quality learning and care is available for all three and four-year-olds and eligible two-year-olds and is expected to save parents around £350 per child, per month.

The First Minister said: “Our expansion of nursery education is truly transformational. Currently we deliver around 16 hours of early education and childcare a week – that’s already an expansion. But some parents still struggle to find and fund the childcare they need to allow them to work. We are going to change that.

“By 2020, we will deliver 30 hours a week for every three and four-year-old and eligible two-year-olds. It will give children the best start in life. It will free parents to find work. And each month it will save families around £350 per child on the costs of childcare.

“Over the past few months, we have undertaken detailed work to assess the investment needed. Right now, we invest around £420 million a year. By the end of this Parliament, that will double to £840 million a year. That is the kind of real, practical help thatyoung parents need.”

Malala’s Magic Pencil

The youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Malala Yousafzai, came to public attention in October 2012 when she spoke out about her family’s fight for girls’ education in her community in Pakistan, resulting in her being targeted and shot by the Taliban. Following her miraculous survival she became an established voice for young women – the Young Reader edition of her memoir was a New York Times bestseller – and Malala is now sharing her inspirational story with younger readers in the form of her debut picture book. As a child, Malala used to dream about a magic pencil she could use to solve problems, but as she grew older she saw a world that needed fixing.

This beautifully illustrated book tells Malala’s story, in her own words, for a younger audience and shows them the worldview that allowed her to hold on to hope and make her voice heard even in the most difficult times. She said, “Through this picture book I want to inspire younger children to believe in themselves and to recognise that their voices can make a difference. I hope they find their own magic pencil.” Malala’s Magic Pencil is published by Puffin, HB £12.99.

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