Our very own Bookbug Hero

Scottish Book Trust, the national charity changing lives with reading and writing, has announced the 2023 winner of the annual Bookbug Hero Award – and it’s our very own Janice Middleton, liveArgyll Library Supervisor at Rothesay Library!

The Bookbug Hero Award was established to celebrate the work of those who use Bookbug to change the lives of the children, families and communities they work with.

Janice was described as an ‘integral part of the island community’ and praised for going above and beyond to reach out and introduce families to Bookbug on the Isle of Bute, regularly touring the island. Janice’s efforts to welcome new families from Syria and Ukraine to the island and her library, as well as to create inclusive storytelling sessions for adults with learning difficulties, were also celebrated by the judging panel.

An inspiring team leader, Janice mentors library colleagues on Bute and Tiree to give them the confidence to run their own Bookbug Sessions post-Covid. The reach of her Bookbug videos on social media has been so wide that visiting families from the USA and Canada have come to the library to attend her Bookbug Sessions.

Bookbug is Scotland’s universal book gifting programme for 0–5-year-olds, through which every child in Scotland receives four free book bags by their first year at school. Free fun-filled Bookbug Sessions take place all over Scotland in local libraries and community spaces, and Bookbug for the Home practitioners support families on a one-on-one basis.

Four people were highly commended for the award – Audrey Conlin, Childrens’ Librarian in South Lanarkshire; Duncan MacNeil, Gaelic Development Officer in Argyll and Bute; Allison Keys, Health Care Support Worker at NHS Lanarkshire; and Aimie Neilson, Early Years Practitioner in South Lanarkshire.

Janice Middleton, 2023 Bookbug Hero Award winner, said: ‘I was speechless when I was told I’d won the Bookbug Hero Award. I’m truly honoured, though the truth is the award is all thanks to everyone who attends our Bookbug Sessions at liveArgyll Rothesay Library and all who watch our small videos online. It’s amazing that Bookbug and I have travelled so far, without stepping on a plane.’

Marc Lambert, CEO of Scottish Book Trust, said: ‘Many congratulations to Janice Middleton, our Bookbug Hero for 2023. We would like to thank Janice for her incredible work, bringing Bookbug and the benefits of sharing stories, songs and rhymes to her community with great enthusiasm. Our thanks to Walker Books for making this award possible.’

Rosi Crawley, Head of Publicity at Walker Books, added: ‘Huge congratulations to Janice for her incredible service, which is especially important in such a small community but with a global view that welcomes families from around the world! As ever we’re so proud to sponsor this award and recognise the achievements of all those heroes spreading a love of stories far and wide!’

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