With a quarter of Dumfries and Galloway primary pupils below the Scottish attainment targets for reading, Big DoG is going back on the road to promote a love of books and stories.

Between 27 November and 1 December, three children’s authors and storytellers will visit 37 schools to engage with over 2,000 pupils and donate 100 books.

The Big DoG Schools Tour, a spin off from the Big DoG festival of children’s literature organised each year in Dumfries by Wigtown Festival Company (WFC), will feature Eve Wersocki-Morris, Holly Sterling (an international karate champion) and Sarah Coyle. 

The tours, which began last year, use the power of stories to inspire young minds. Schools across the region from Port William to Moffat are taking part (see below). 

Eve said: “I’m really looking forward to sharing my latest book The Wildstorm Curse with the children of Dumfries and Galloway. 

“Visiting schools is one of the most important and rewarding parts of being a children’s author – inspiring kids to become readers can change lives; not only because reading improves literacy but because reading improves empathy, confidence and imagination. 

“I’m dyslexic – just like the main character in The Wildstorm Curse – and reading, even though I found it tricky, gave me the courage to never give up on my dreams, just like the heroes in the stories I loved.” 

Department of Education research shows that reading for pleasure is the single biggest indicator of a child’s future success – more than family circumstances, parents’ educational background or income.

Scottish Government figures show that following the pandemic one in four of the region’s primary pupils are below national targets for reading and writing. Teachers across the region are working hard to get primary pupils back on track and this programme aims to provide them with an extra resource to help.  

Andy Stewart, WFC Producer (Children and Young People), said: “The Big DoG Schools Tour has quickly become one of our annual highlights. We really look forward to working with schools of all sizes and in many different communities – helping teachers with the challenges they face after the disruption to education caused by COVID. 

“Encouraging a child to enjoy reading is just so important – one of the most valuable investments you can make to help them achieve success in later life, as well as opening the doors to a whole universe of amazing stories and experiences.”

With many families facing challenges in getting children to WFC events in Wigtown or Dumfries, the schools tour takes the benefits of festivals like Big DoG direct to them.

The 2022 tour saw authors cover more than 100 miles as they visited dozens of schools. 

One was Jack Meggitt-Phillips, author of The Beast and the Bethany, who said: “The Wigtown schools tour was a real delight. It was a fabulous week of stories and silliness.”

Alex Foulkes, author of Rules for Vampires, added: “The tour was fantastic with even more fantastic people, meeting students and staff in wonderful schools across Dumfries and Galloway.

“It was so great to share our love of reading, stories and adventures with the young people of D&G. Thank you for being so funny, sparky, clever and kind. I was blown away.”

The Big DoG Schools Tour is supported by Kilgallioch Community Benefit Company, Annandale and Nithsdale Community Benefit Company and Baillie Gifford. The hospitality partners are Gretna Hall Hotel and The Cairndale Hotel.  

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Notes to Editors

Participating schools

Belmont, St Joseph’s RC, Rephad, Sandhead, Park, Creetown, Wigtown, Port William, Penninghame, Whithorn, Gatehouse-of-Fleet, Hardgate CD, Auchencairn, Dalbeattie, Kirkcudbright, Castle Douglas, St Andrew’s RC, Troqueer, Dunscore, Locharbriggs, Cargenbridge, St Andrew’s RC, Newington Annan, Lockerbie, Gretna, Elmvale Annan, Moffat.

  • Further information on www.wigtownbookfestival.com
  • Organised by – Wigtown Festival Company, 11 Main Street, Wigtown, Dumfries and Galloway, DG8 9HN.
  • Wigtown Festival Company is limited by guarantee with charitable status. Charity number SCO37984.

Scottish Government (2021/2022): Curriculum for Excellence reading and writing attainment levels:  

Reading:            D&G 73%           Scotland 78.20%

Writing:              D&G 66.20%       Scotland 73.10%

Average             D&G 70%           Scotland 75.65%

Links for the authors

For further information and interview requests contact Matthew Shelley on 07786 704299 or [email protected]