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ICTFC, the SPFL Trust and Scottish Book Trust have teamed up to launch a pioneering pilot project, which aims to encourage kids to read. 

The ICT Community Team is working in partnership with 14 SPFL clubs and local libraries, to deliver the 4-4-2 Reading Challenge which aims to inspire children aged 5-12 to read four books in exchange for match tickets.

The initiative centres on a reading “challenge card” which participating clubs and libraries will issue. For every book read, children will receive a stamp on their card. 

When they have read four books, participants will receive a FREE match ticket for a home league match at Tulloch Caledonian Stadium, while an accompanying adult will be able to purchase a discounted ticket. 

Although this is a test project, over 200 libraries, marking more than half the estate in Scotland, will be involved, across 11 of Scotland’s thirty-two local authorities. The project could be extended to cover the whole country if the initiative is a winner. 

Funding for the 4-4-2 Reading Challenge has been generously provided by the SPFL. In turn, the SPFL Trust and Scottish Book Trust have launched a partnership to deliver an initial three-month campaign. 

The 4-4-2 Reading Challenge is underpinned by a beautifully crafted visual campaign, featuring the drawings of Edinburgh-based Danish illustrator Anders Frang. 

SPFL Trust Chief Executive Nicky Reid comments:

“The 4-4-2 Reading Challenge initiative is designed to encourage children who don’t regularly visit the library or sport to do so. As such, we think it’s a real win-win opportunity for all concerned. Although this is a pilot project, we have high hopes that it can be a hugely successful programme, and so we are grateful to the SPFL for their support to allow us to kick-off.”

Marc Lambert, CEO of Scottish Book Trust, a charity changing lives through reading and writing, said: 

“Taking part in sport and reading are both important for young people’s physical and mental health.  As well as being fun, reading for pleasure can increase empathy, reduce stress and improve wellbeing, while all the research shows that children who read for pleasure also tend to do better at school.  We’re delighted to work with the SPFL to use sport to encourage a love of reading in Scotland’s children.”

Craig Masterton ICTFC Head of Community adds:

“It is so important to get out into the community and inspire children to not just get involved in sport but to encourage different aspects of their education working in partnership with local schools.  The added bonus with the positive message of reading coming from male role models from a sporting background is imperative to inspire more youngsters to do further reading out with the classroom”

SPFL Chief Executive Neil Doncaster says:

“The 4-4-2 Reading Challenge is another excellent initiative from the SPFL Trust that the SPFL is delighted to support. Learning to read is a cornerstone of every child’s upbringing and hopefully the reward of getting to a football match will encourage many of them to take up the challenge.”


Clubs participating in the 4-4-2 Reading Challenge are:

  • Annan Athletic FC
  • Arbroath FC
  • Dundee FC
  • Dundee United FC
  • Forfar Athletic FC
  • Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC
  • Kilmarnock FC
  • Livingston FC
  • Motherwell FC
  • Peterhead FC
  • Raith Rovers FC
  • Ross County FC
  • St Johnstone FC
  • Stirling Albion FC


Reading and writing transform lives.

Reading and writing are the most important factors in reducing the attainment gap, improve mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and dementia, and influence people’s work, relationships and the economy.

Inequality and Literacy

  • More than 1 in 4 of Scotland’s children are living in poverty and the problem is getting worse (Child Poverty Action Group)
  • Children from deprived backgrounds often do not go on to higher education and are likely to earn less over the course of their lives
  • By the age of three, children from the most prosperous households have heard 30 million more words spoken throughout their lifetime than children from impoverished households (Source: The Thirty Million Word Gap by Betty Hart And Todd R. Risley)
  • When they are five, the vocabulary of children from low-income households is typically more than a year behind those from high-income backgrounds (Source: Joseph Rowntree Foundation: Closing the Attainment Gap In Scottish Education Report)
  • Helping children to develop a lifelong love of reading can reverse this situation, helping to break the cycle of poverty and improve their life chances
  • Children who are read to every day by their parents and carers have been shown to be almost 12 months ahead of their age group by the time they start school. Even reading to children two or three times a week can make a significant contribution to their development.

Mental Health Benefits

Scotland is facing a mental health and wellbeing crisis. One in three people suffer from mental illness each year, and the number of people with dementia is set to double in the next 25 years.

Reading and writing for pleasure has incredible benefits for mental health:

  • Just six minutes of reading can reduce stress by 68%.
  • Reading is linked to preventing and slowing the onset of dementia.
  • Reading and creative writing improve empathy, communication and self-esteem and reduce anxiety and depression
  • Reading fiction can model ways of coping with alienation or problems at school, work or in relationships.
  • Reading creates a greater empathy with other sectors of society and with other cultures, which can help tackle social problems such as xenophobia, sectarianism and racism and create a more tolerant, civic-minded society.