This government-funded programme was established in 1914 and is run by Suzhou Library (Jiangsu Province), which is based on the service concept of ‘Equality, Free, Professional, Courteous, Efficient’.
Each year, the “Reading Pack” is distributed to 5000 families with infants aged 0-3, which accounts for around 16% of newborns in Suzhou City (according to 2012 data). The pack includes a child readership card, an activity brochure, a height ruler for kids, a picture book and a guide book of how to conduct parent-child reading.
The goal of Reading Baby is to provide guidance to parents around how to share the fun of reading with children and allow more kids to benefit from early reading, while cultivating it as a lifelong hobby and promoting their overall development. Aside from providing the reading pack for free, there are plans to hold more reading events, such as lectures on parent-child reading, a Parents salon, "Story mother" training, as well as conducting children's mental health counseling, recommending reading lists, and setting up a special area for "reading baby" activities in the library.
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Launched in June 2014, Bookstart Indonesia is the first bookgifting initiative in the country and is funded through individual donations, government funding and private sponsorship. The priority is children aged under-5 in deprived areas, with the aim of reach 1,000 children in the first year, and doubling that subsequently.
Bookstart Indonesia strives to build awareness around the importance of instilling a love of reading from an early age through bookgifting, campaigns and small-scale community reading clubs and libraries. Due to the absence of local libraries, books are posted to local volunteers who distribute them at bookgifting events. Increase in attendance at reading clubs has been seen from the start and Bookstart Indonesia plans to become the main government partner in developing children’s literacy across this large and populous country.
More than 2 million babies have received a Bookstart pack in Japan since the programme launched in 2000. Now running in over 40% of all local authorities, more than 430,000 babies received a pack in 2010 alone.
Most of the Bookstart packs are gifted at a baby's health check-ups, and in some areas there is a further pack to children over 18 months old. Each scheme is coordinated by a local working group of local librarians, health professionals and volunteers. When gifting a pack, they demonstrate the joy of sharing books to babies and their parents or carers, encouraging families to try it at home.
The funding for the Bookstart schemes in each local authority comes mainly from the local government. The programme is administered by a non-profit organisation, Bookstart Japan, which provides advice on sharing books, organises workshops and conferences, and publishes newsletters and handbooks to share best practice between schemes. Through the support of publishers, Bookstart Japan also produces quality packs at low cost, which are then bought by local schemes.
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Bookstart Korea aims to inspire, stimulate and create a love of reading that will give children a flying start in life. Launched in 2003, the programme gifts free packs of picture books and runs book play events.
Books packs are given to babies at age 6–18 months, at 19–35 months (Bookstart Plus), and at 36 months to 6 years (Bookstart Treasure Box). In 2010, over 100,000 children in South Korea received these packs in 48% of the country. By 2013, Bookstart Korea plans to reach every baby born in the country – a total of 450,000 children.
Funded through government and private donation, Bookstart Korea is delivered through partnership with libraries, health care centres, village offices and local culture centres.
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Since 2005, the Bookstart scheme in Thailand has delivered gift bags to every newborn – approximately 800,000 babies every year. The gift bag includes a handbook for parents, a baby book, a plastic book, a lullaby CD and a toy mobile. The programme is managed by National Institution for Brain-Based Learning.
Taiwan Bookstart logoBookstart was launched in Taipei, Taiwan, in 2005 and recently celebrated its 10th Birthday. The scheme is run by the Hsin Yi Foundation and aims to give books to children between 6 and 18 months. Collaboration with county governments and local libraries is central and over 200,000 Bookstart bags have been given out with the help of 5,200 volunteers trained in all aspects of reading to babies. Also, 100,000 parents have attended reading seminars. The Foundation has helped to set up reading areas for babies and toddlers in 34 participating libraries.
Bookstart Day is held every October with over 500 participating libraries. In 2015, 80 libraries were involved and over 4,000 parents and children attended. The special pack produced was on the theme ‘Let’s Play Hide-and-Seek’ and a book called Where is the Goldfish? was included along with a cloth goldfish toy. The goldfish were hidden by librarians for the children to find and so there was a real sense of fun and celebration of books and stories. In the photographs below, Bookstart workers are easy to identify with their wonderful yellow aprons.
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