In Central and South America
British Virgin Islands
Books for Babies
Begun in 2000, and re-established in 2009, the British Virgin Islands Reading Council’s Books for Babies programme aims to make parents aware of the importance of books and reading, and to encourage them to form the habit of reading to their children at an early age. This will create in them the love of reading which will help them develop into readers for life.
Every year, mothers of around 75% of the 350 babies born each year at Peebles Hospital receive packets of books to share.
The programme is funded by donations from private individuals, firms and banks and co-sponsored by the social development department of the British Virgin Islands government.
Leer en Familia
Inspired by Bookstart in the UK, Colombia's Leer en Familia (family reading) programme was established in 2003 to encourage parents to give their children a love of books and reading.
Run by reading charity Fundalectura, the programme sells packs of books to health organisations and libraries, which in turn deliver to families free of charge.
Gifted just after birth or at eight months old, around 35,000 babies – mostly from low-income families – receive packs every year. The programme has forged important partnerships with partners in health and libraries, mostly from the private sector.
The secretary of social integration in Colombia has funded the programme to give packs of books to five community centres in Bogotá, the nation's capital. There has also been important work with expecting mothers, especially vulnerable teenagers, and library facilities have been provided for children who don't attend nurseries or daycare centres.
Leer en Familia continues to raise awareness of the importance of sharing stories with children, and aims ultimately to gift book packs to every family in Colombia.
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Bookstart in the Falkland Islands gifts packs of books to babies at their 8-month and two-year check-ups.
A local company pays for the Bookstart packs and sponsors the scheme, and the government pays for the packs to be shipped to the Falklands Islands.
A book redistribution service has also been set up to offer families access to books in all waiting rooms and nurseries, and there are plans to extend the scheme further throughout the islands.
Since launching in January 2011, Bookstart in Jamaica has been operating a pilot programme that aims to gift packs of books to 7,000 babies at their 6-week health check up. The programme expanded in 2012 to reach over 40,000 babies – around 85% of all the children born in Jamaica each year.
Run in partnership with the Jamaica library service, the programme aims to:
- support family literacy
- encourage reading from infancy that gives children a flying start when they start school
- encourage a lifelong love of books
Bookstart Jamaica is funded by the government, and aims to develop matching funds from public-private partnerships.