Theresa Breslin with staff and users of Sighthill Library
Theresa Breslin with staff and users of Sighthill Library
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IT was an ambitious world record attempt and one which they had to make sure was done by the book.

Young and old turned out in Sighthill in a bid to create the “longest reading chain” which saw a huge line of people each reading one sentence from the same book consecutively.

Unfortunately they fell short of beating the record set in Vienna, Austria on September 26, 2010, when 290 people formed a chain. However, Sighthill Library can lay claim to a new British record.

Diane Yule, team leader at the library, said she was approached to stage the event as part of the Edinburgh International Book Festival. “They asked if anyone wanted to try to break a world record. We didn’t know what it was going to be, so we had a look through the record books and came across the Longest Reading Chain Record, held by Vienna.

“It was a literacy one that we could involve the community with, which is key as Edinburgh has strong ties with literature. We’re the first city of literature.”

In the end, for the attempt yesterday afternoon, they managed to get 218 people in the reading chain.

However, they are not deterred and have vowed to attempt to smash the world record again.

“We’re going to try again, perhaps at a better time when the schools haven’t just started back.”

The book used for the event was Prisoner in Alcatraz by Theresa Breslin – Scottish author of over 30 titles.

Ms Breslin is a former librarian herself who has worked in Sighthill before, so her book was a prime candidate for the record attempt.

“The book is also published by Barrington Stoke, an Edinburgh publisher which publishes books for less confident readers and people with dyslexia,” said Ms Yule.

The age range between readers was vast. The youngest reader – five-year-old Lucas – has only been at school for two days, while the eldest readers was over 80. Everyone who took part in the attempt also received a copy of the book, with a certificate inside proving their participation in the event.

Ms Breslin said she supported the event because she was passionate about reading in the community.

“People of all ages came from all over for the attempt – there were mothers with toddlers and grandmothers too – which is fantastic. It’s what a library’s all about – community.”

Ms Breslin’s current book, Prisoner of the Inquisition, has already been shortlisted for a Carnegie Medal.

Event organiser Andrew McTaggart was pleased with the turnout. He said: “It makes for a lot of new readers which is important. We may not have managed the world record but we certainly had fun trying – I even joined in myself.”