Bookstart is the national programme that encourages all parents and carers to enjoy books with children from as early an age as possible.
In 2013-14, almost 1.5 million packs and 3 million books were gifted to babies, toddlers and preschoolers across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, including almost 5,000 additional needs packs.
The programme is enabled by funding from the Department for Culture, Media & Sport and the devolved government in Wales, with the generous support of numerous children’s publishers.
Bookstart began in 1992 in Birmingham with a pilot project involving 300 babies. Research into the effects of early book-sharing on child development found that Bookstart children began school with significant advantages and with higher attainment in all aspects of the pre-school, nine baseline assessments.
Sainsbury’s plc sponsored Bookstart as their Millennium project in 1999-2000 enabling Bookstart to achieve national recognition for the first time. Today, the Bookstart programme is funded by DCMS (Department for Culture, Media and Sport) to gift books to children at key stages: Bookstart Baby Pack for children up to 12 months, Bookstart Treasure for 3- to 4-year-olds, and Bookstart Corner, which is for 150,000 families with children aged 12-24 months who need additional support.
The Bookstart programme today is founded on community partnerships and comes in two parts. The first offers the wonderful Bookstart packs of free books and guidance materials; the second, more lasting, gift is the enjoyment and benefits of book-sharing. It is here that the enthusiastic endorsement by local professionals (through regular activities in libraries, clinics and early years settings) is essential in realising the full potential of the Bookstart message: for every child in the UK to develop a lifelong love of books.
Bookstart works in partnership with libraries and early years settings to run a number of projects for babies and young children including Bookstart Rhymetime activities and gifting our additional needs packs: Booktouch for blind and partially sighted children, Bookshine deaf children and Bookstart Star for children with disabilities that impact on or delay the development of their fine motor skills. Rhymetimes have developed into an engaging, exciting activity loved by parents and children alike. The premise is simple: rhymes and songs are a fun way of helping children acquire language skills, involving the support and encouragement of parents and carers, and are great building blocks for future learning.
G8 Battersea Studios
80 Silverthorne Road
t +44 (0)20 7801 8800
This project is run by Book Trust (United Kingdom)