Support for families with children aged 0-5
It's never too early to start reading with your child - in fact, it's one of the best ways you can set them up for life!
You don't need to wait until your child starts school to start enjoying books together. It's a great way to bond, supports their early development, and on top of that, it's lots and lots of fun!
If you're not sure where to start, you've come to the right place: we're sharing top tips, book recommendations, activity ideas and more to help you get going.
Find out more about the benefits of sharing books by watching our video:
We know it might feel a little strange reading to a baby - and we're not going to pretend they'll understand all the words!
But actually, you can start before your baby is even born: they'll be able to hear sounds from as early as 18 weeks and will be comforted listening to you.
Once your baby has arrived, they'll love snuggling up to you and enjoy the sound of your voice, making reading together a perfect way to bond.
As your baby gets older, they'll enjoy looking at the pictures too. Try black and white books, which are perfect when their eyes are still developing.
It's a great idea to join your local library too (head to the gov.uk website to find the closest one to you). Get your baby their first library card and you'll be able to borrow books for free - what's more, your library may hold baby sessions to help you meet other families.
More to explore
- Don't miss out on your Bookstart Baby pack! You should receive this from your health visitor, registrar or another health professional before your baby turns 1: it includes books, finger puppets and information to help you start enjoying books together. If you haven't received your pack, try asking at your local library or emailing us. We also have packs available for children with additional needs and dual-language packs for families who have English as an additional language.
- Check out our Bookstart Baby leaflet for a useful timeline and top tips to help you read together.
- You can download our free Reading with Your Child booklet which is packed with more great tips to help you out! It's also available in a variety of other languages.
- Not sure which books to try? We've put together a list of brilliant stories that we think are perfect for sharing with babies.
- There is so much fun you can have with books! We have a special section of BookTrust HomeTime that's full of activities, storytime videos and rhymes to enjoy with your little one.
Children aged 1-2
Toddlers are excited to explore the world, so at this age they'll really love starting to turn the pages themselves.
It's a great time to start introducing books with interactive features - children love lifting flaps, pulling sliders and exploring different textures.
They'll also enjoy listening to you at this age, so it's the perfect opportunity to have fun with silly animal noises or fun rhymes!
But don't worry if your child is more interested in chewing the pages than listening to the story at this stage: that's totally normal! The main thing is that you have fun together.
More to explore
- You may receive our new Bookstart Toddler pack, which contains two books along with activities and games to help you bring them to life! This is a pilot, so it won't be available to every family.
- We've put together a list of books that are perfect for sharing with children aged 1-2!
- Explore the special section of BookTrust HomeTime that's full of fun and activities for children this age: expect stories, rhymes, and colouring sheets.
Children aged 2-3
At this age, children can often follow a simple story and will enjoy joining in with actions - try fun sing-song books with moves you can do at home!
It's also a great age to encourage children to guess what will happen next. They'll love turning the page to find out if they were right!
You don't always have to read the words, either. Enjoy looking at the pictures together, and sit close together to encourage your child to try holding the book themselves.
More to explore
- We've got some fantastic activity sheet bundles that are perfect for children aged 2-3! Just click on the links to download them:
- You can find lots more fun activities, storytimes and rhymes by heading to the special early years section of BookTrust HomeTime.
- We've put together lists of great books for 2-year-olds and great books for 3-year-olds - we think these are perfect stories to enjoy together!
Children aged 3-4
Children at this age will start to have favourite books they want to read over and over again (don't worry if this happens: it's totally normal!)
Encourage your child to choose which book they would like to look at: they'll be more interested if they've picked it out themselves. It's a great opportunity to head to the library together - then you can let them pick which books to borrow.
As children get older, they're able to enjoy slightly longer stories, too. And you may wish to use picture books to help your child to open up about how they're feeling or to help you talk about tough topics together (try this list for recommendations of some books that could be useful).
More to explore
- You may receive a Bookstart Pre-schooler pack, featuring two books along with games and activities to bring them to life. This is a pilot, so not every family will receive this pack.
- We have a free Reading with Your Child booklet, for you to download, full of tips and tricks to help you share stories together (it's also available in 24 other languages too).
- We've put together some fun activity sheet bundles that are free for you to download! Just click on the links to get them:
- For more activities plus online stories, rhymes and more, head to the special early years section of BookTrust HomeTime.
- We've also put together lists of fantastic books for 3-year-olds and books for 4-year-olds that we think you'll really enjoy!
Children aged 4-5
This is a really exciting time as children start to get ready for school - but it's great if you can still find time to read together.
We know things get a bit busier at this time, but even a few minutes a day can make a difference. Maybe bedtime is the best time for you to share stories, or perhaps you could take a book to the park!
If you can, turn off your television or computer and put down your phone when you're sharing books: it makes it easier for you both to concentrate on the story, and it's lovely to have that time just for you!
Now your child is a little older, they'll be able to enjoy slightly longer stories. Keep them interested by asking them lots of questions about what's going on.
But it's also a chance to have lots of fun! Choose books that will make you both giggle: there are lots of silly, funny stories out there to enjoy.
More to explore
- Keep an eye out for your Time to Read pack when your child starts Reception: at some point in the year, they may bring home a pack from us including a free book to help you keep enjoying stories together.
- We've put together a list of fantastic books for 4-year-olds and books for 5-year-olds. And check out our Great Books Guide for more recommendations of brilliant reads from the last year.
- You can find lots of fun stories and activities by heading to the 4-5 section of BookTrust HomeTime!
Join in the fun at BookTrust Storytime!
BookTrust Storytime is all about having fun with your little ones at your local library!
Libraries across the country will be celebrating six very special books shortlisted for our BookTrust Storytime Prize with stories, rhymes and activities.
Why not find out if your library is taking part?
Use our Bookfinder to get great reading recommendations! Just choose an age and theme and we'll share book reviews to help you find something you'll love.
Every month, we pick out our favourite new books for children! From board books for babies right through to non-fiction for teenagers, there's something for everyone in your family.
Sharing rhymes with children is such a great way to spend time together! Head to our special Rhymes section to listen to some of our favourites and download the lyrics.
We know bedtime isn't always the easiest part of the day, but sharing books can really help your child to settle down. Get top tips on including stories in your bedtime routine.
Read the same book just one too many times? What to Read After is full of recommendations of stories to try based on what you already love: from The Gruffalo to Elmer, We're Going on a Bear Hunt and Dogger.