Scotland Reads, and I Read Along

My Dearest Readers,

I hope you accept my apologies for being one day late on this week’s post. I had every intention of writing, but my first assessment for this semester core course for my program is due tomorrow. I had to write two academic reviews. It takes much more time to write academic reviews than I thought, so I was working on those all weekend.

And they’re still not done! I have to proofread and fix up the final formatting.

That means it’s a good time to tell you about my just-started volunteer position: Scotland Reads!

Scotland Reads is an initiative to bring university students into schools to read with students one-on-one. The goal is to make reading more fun, increase confidence in reading, and increase overall self esteem for the kids. The children chosen are not significantly behind in their reading, but they might be struggling a bit and need some extra practice to stay with their age level.

I went into the school last Friday to meet my contact with the school, pick out some books, and set out the meeting times (Monday and Friday mornings). This morning, the fun started! I met the two kids I’m working with, we picked out some books they like, and we did a bit of reading together. They were great, and funny, and really like football (aka soccer in American).

The way it works is both people read together out loud at the child’s pace. That way, the tutor/uni student can give help with any words the child struggles with, and they can keep reading without having to sound it out or skip over it and hope they can understand the text anyway. If they want to read alone, they tap the table, and they read alone until they need help again, and the cycle continues. It’s called paired reading, and it’s really helpful for the children.

I find myself even after this one session glad I’m doing it. It was great to wake up this morning, make my way to the school, and work with the kids. I haven’t worked with kids much, at least not one-on-one like that, and I really think I’m going to enjoy the opportunity.

The Glaswegian accent through the mouth of Primary 6 students (5th grade, roughly) poses a bit of a problem sometimes, but we get through it!

Having this volunteering position also gives me more of a purpose in the city and connects me more to the community. I feel significantly more comfortable and relaxed here since I started this only three days ago, as if I belong.

It’s wonderful, and I definitely recommend it to any student studying here long enough to participate for at least four months, if it’s offered at your uni. You need a to be cleared as part of what’s called a PVG scheme, but that’s basically a background check, so it doesn’t pose a problem.

Also, if you know a child or have a child that’s struggling to read, try out the paired reading! A short book or a chapter or a news article or anything at a reading level they can handle is good for it, and it’ll be a good bonding for families.

I’d be curious to hear about any similar volunteering or work you’ve done and what you learned from it. Feel free to share in the comments!

Your Bonnie Celtophile,



“Humans are a Part of Nature….”: Cowalfest Heritage Walk 2016 Photos

Dearest Readers,

When I was working with conservationists in Peru, one of the biggest ideas was that humans are as necessary to conservation as animals. Conservation is not only about saving the animals. It is also about saving humans.

So this quote from Marc Bekoff seems appropriate to go with this group of photos, which shows human material influence on nature along our walk.

Humans are a part of nature, not apart from nature.

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Your Bonnie Celtophile,


“The Trick to Forgetting the Big Picture…”: Cowalfest Heritage Walk 2016 Photos

Dearest Readers,

Chuck Palahniuk, who I have yet to read but will one day, has this lovely quote:

The trick to forgetting the big picture is to look at everything close-up.”

I think it is quite pertinent given the theme of this group of pictures is “up close and personal.”

Or at least just “up close.”

This one is definitely my favorite. It’s like it’s own little forest atop the post.

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Next time you’re in nature, don’t forget to stop and looker closer at the things you’re passing!

Your Bonnie Celtophile,