Book start bear at storytime
Bookstart is a national early years bookgifting programme run by Booktrust and delivered locally by the Library Service. It supports parents and carers in enjoying books with their children from as early an age as possible.

We want every child in the UK to develop a lifelong love of books. Working through locally-based organisations, Bookstart gives the gift of free books to all babies & children at 3-6 months and 3-4 years, along with guidance materials for parents and carers.  It also provides targeted support for toddlers and a range of additional resources, as well as promoting library use through a range of fun activities.

Sharing stories every day helps a baby to develop language and listening skills and helps to establish a strong and loving bond between parent and child.  It also builds imagination, curiosity and a confident eagerness to learn.  We know that reading aloud to babies and toddlers from their first days helps them to do better in all subjects when they go on to start school.

“The benefits of enjoying stories with your child every day are simply priceless; you'll be helping them to become confident, articulate, empathetic, intuitive, fair-minded and logical, someone who respects themselves, and others, and has an eager curiosity about life. Reading aloud with your child everyday helps build these qualities”

Rosemary Clarke (MBE), Director of Bookstart   

How does Bookstart work?

The Library Service works with local health professionals, early year’s services and Children’s Centres to support every child on their reading journey, giving them a love of books, stories and rhymes which can last a lifetime. 

In Bath and North East Somerset, the scheme is co-ordinated by the Under 8s Reading and Library Development Team in the library service.

How does it benefit children? 

Sharing books with babies and toddlers is a wonderful way to increase language skills and helps children to understand their world. The first five years are the best time for learning to talk and most of a child's language comes from the adults around them. Sharing stories also helps to establish a strong and loving bond between parent and child and helps build imagination, curiosity and a confident eagerness to learn. Babies and toddlers who love books begin reading sooner and have a better chance at school. 

“We found that the strongest predictor of childhood development, including their socio-emotional development and cognitive skills, was reading to children on a daily basis. It is one of the strongest predictors of these outcomes, even when everything else is taken into consideration. There is something about the strongly transactional element of storytelling that makes it important; adult and child snuggle up close, think about the pictures together  and what might happen next. It also provides one-on-one, intimate time between carer and child. 

Bookstart is a key initiative getting books into homes and encouraging parents and carers to share books, stories and rhymes from birth which can make a significant difference to outcomes later in life for a child.“

Professor Yvonne Kelly of the Institute for Social & Economic Research

How do babies & children receive their packs?  

Bookstart gives free book packs at key stages of a child's development between 0 and 4 years:

  • The Bookstart Baby pack is gifted by a health visitor when the baby is between 3 and 6 months old.
  • The Bookstart Treasure pack is gifted through a child's early years setting, when the child is 3 to 4 years old.
  • Bookstart Corner is a new programme that offers targeted support for families with babies aged 12-30 months through Sure Start Children Centres.

Other Bookstart resources 

Bookstart provides additional free resources for specific needs including:

  • Bookshine packs for children who are deaf/hearing impaired
  • Booktouch for those who are blind/partially sighted.

Bookstart also provides free dual language books and dual language guidance materials in 29 community languages. Ask your health visitor, local health clinic, early years setting or local library to arrange for you to receive the appropriate resources.

Bookstart Baby Bounce and Rhymes  

Many libraries in Bath and North East Somerset hold regular Bookstart Baby Bounce and Rhymetimes for 0-3 year olds and their parents/carers. These free sessions are wonderful opportunities to enjoy singing favourite nursery rhymes together and meeting other families. Sharing nursery rhymes and songs significantly helps a child’s language development, as well as being a fun and sociable activity for babies and adults alike.

Bath and North East Somerset dates are available on our events pages.

Storytimes 

Free storytimes are held regularly in many libraries in Bath and North East Somerset for 0-5 year olds and their parents/carers. Come and enjoy new and familiar picture books together.

Bath and North East Somerset dates are available on our events pages.

Bookstart website

Why not visit the Bookstart website for lots more information about the programme, book recommendations and fun games and downloadable activities.

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