Book Bags for Citizen

Resources for Citizen participants in Musselburgh and North Edinburgh

Working with our partners at The Brunton Theatre, North Edinburgh Arts and Royston Wardieburn Community Centre, the book bags contain activities and prompts created by our Writers in Residence


A stock of Edinburgh International Book Festival tote bags stacked against a bookshelf

This week, we have been packing and distributing Citizen activity bags, as part of our ongoing work to combat digital exclusion while the August Book Festival goes online. Working with our community partners we will create over 200 bags for children and adults over the summer.

In Musselburgh, we have been working with The Brunton to distribute packs to 100 children across East Lothian. The activities included have been created by Leyla Josephine, our Schools Writer in Residence and Zoe Murdoch, The Brunton’s Community Arts Coordinator. Additionally, we will providing bags for groups and individuals who have taken part in Citizen sessions in Musselburgh this year, including adults from our Musselburgh Writers Group, The Warblers, People First (Scotland) and families from First-Step Family Centre. Participants can post their drawings, poems and book reviews to us, or send responses via email to, and anything we receive will become part of a display for the Musselburgh community to enjoy.

We will also be teaming up with our colleagues at North Edinburgh Arts to gift books and activity packs to the families who co-wrote Where Dandelions Grow, which can be seen on the Robertson building site hoardings opposite North Edinburgh Arts in Pennywell Court. You can read more about that project here.

Inside a box of craft supplies packed with craft scissors, pencils, crayons

Also in North Edinburgh, Royston Wardieburn Community Centre will be distributing around 60 Book Festival bags, mainly to adults, which will each contain a new book and writing prompts created by Eleanor Thom, our Communities Writer in Residence. Eleanor led an activity day at Royston-Wardieburn in the spring, which engaged with their Spring Chickens, Women Supporting Women and Living in Harmony groups as well as those accessing the centre via social-prescription from their GP. Each pack also contains a postcard, where people will be invited to share a reflection on what they have learned from life in lockdown, or to write a review of the book included in their pack. Postcards can be returned to the Citizen post box at North Edinburgh Arts, once the building re-opens to the public.

We believe that reading can enhance wellbeing and can create space for the reader to inhabit somewhere different, which is especially relevant in a time of continued social distancing. We take so much inspiration from writers, and hope that the words of Jeanette Winterson, who visited the festival most recently in 2019, will resonate with each and every person who receives a book from us as part of this Citizen scheme:

“Reading stills the body for a while, allowing rest without torpor and quiet without passivity. Reading is not a passive act. Engaged in the book, in company with the writer, the mind can roam where it will.”

Jeanette Winterson, ‘A Bed. A Book. A Mountain’. Afterword to Nan Shepherd’s 'The Living Mountain', (Canongate: 2011)

Citizen is part of Edinburgh International Book Festival On The Road. It is supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery and through the PLACE Programme (funded by the Scottish Government, City of Edinburgh Council, and the Edinburgh Festivals, and supported and administered by Creative Scotland).

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