A Dundee woman has started an innovative social media project encouraging more women to pick up a book and get reading.
Vicki Birmingham launched Girls Read This in August 2018 as a side project, while working as an English teacher at Madras College in St Andrews.
Vicki, who lives in the West End, posts short book recommendations videos to her Youtube channel and Facebook pages in an attempt to inspire women of all ages to read.
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She said: “What makes me want to read a book is someone enthusing about it. I want it to be thought of as a recommendation rather than a review. I think that’s much more likely to get someone excited about wanting to read something.
“With everything going digital, people don’t have time to read a thousand-word review which is why I want the videos to sit at around 90 seconds. That is, ultimately, what is going to make people want to watch them to the end.”
“Over the last few years I’ve noticed that the children who are really good at English, and who are choosing Advanced Higher, have seen their reading fall off because there are so many other demands on their time,” she added.
“Even though these children are really good at English and they love it, reading ends up suffering because of all of the other things that they’ve got to do.
“Six or seven years ago they would have been coming into Advanced Higher having had a good backlog of novels that they’ve read and loved. They don’t have that as much now.
“So, this project is a place for them to go and try and find out some recommendations.
“The name for the project came largely as a result of my own personal preferences novel-wise. I’ll always go for fiction and this has made up the majority of my recommendations so far and I think that tends to be something that girls and women go for more.”
The mother-of-one launched Girls Read This after her son, Elliott, began spending a little more time at nursery each week.
She said: “I found myself with this one day a week which I hadn’t had before. Usually I did schoolwork, cleaning or shopping but I’d had this idea in the back of my head for a while.
“I wanted to create a project to encourage girls and women to read more. I’d been formulating the idea for about six months and had spoken to some friends for their thoughts.
“The biggest hurdle, for me, was filming myself and being in front of a camera. It’s not something that I felt natural doing and wasn’t sure about the technical aspect. It got to the last week of my summer holiday’s last year and knew that it was something I had to do then or I’d lose my nerve.
“My first video got a really nice reaction from everyone. My mum cries at every one of my videos. Many people said it had made them think about how much time they devoted to reading and that they would now make it a priority.
To celebrate the project’s first birthday on August 9, Vicki started a challenge in which she would leave books around Dundee as presents for other keen readers to find and enjoy.
Her hope is that it will inspire others to do the same.
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She said: “I’m trying to give to independent shops, in places where I can tell people what I’m doing.
“A couple of girls who have found the little book presents have sent a message thanking me. It’s made my night receiving messages like this.”
So far, Vicki has left presents at Hayley Scanlan’s shop on Perth Road, Taypark House, The Bach, Tilted Duck and Assai Records on Union Street.
“People have already offered to leave books themselves. It would be lovely if other people got involved.
“Ultimately, the aim is to get as many different people as I can making their own recommendations for me. I’d like a network of people to help me.”