Planning an event for National Bookstart Week?

Published on: 12 April 2018 Author: Anne Frost, Bookstart Coordinator

With National Bookstart Week fast approaching, award-winning Bookstart Coordinator Anne Frost tells us how Sheffield Libraries are getting ready for this year's Bookstart Bird Boogie and reveals her top tips for running events both big and small.

Anne Frost

I work for Sheffield Libraries and I’m extremely lucky to work with an amazing Children and Young People’s Team. Our main aim is to promote reading for pleasure, encouraging families to incorporate reading in their daily routines and engage with their local libraries to enjoy the amazing range of books and services on offer.

As a team, we have great fun organising not only children’s events in all our library service points throughout the year but also large annual events such as the Sheffield Children’s Book Awards (which will be celebrating 30 years this year), the Summer Reading Challenge and, of course, National Bookstart Week.

Here in Sheffield, National Bookstart Week provides us with a brilliant opportunity to hold a big celebration of stories, book-sharing, songs and rhymes - and to generally have lots of fun!

It’s also a great way to showcase our services and to introduce new families to the library. As well as holding special baby and story times in our service points, we try to reach out to families who aren’t regular library uses by holding at least one event in the city centre.

Sheffield Peace Gardens Bookstart eventCelebrating National Bookstart Week at Sheffield Peace Gardens in 2017

This year, National Bookstart Week will run from 4-10 June. The theme is Bookstart Bird Boogie and Booktrust’s chosen book is A Busy Day for Birds by Lucy Cousins.

Story times with a twist

In Sheffield, most service points hold weekly baby times or story times sessions and during National Bookstart Week, these will be themed to tie in with Bookstart Bird Boogie as part of our celebrations.

Our library baby times and story times are very informal and we encourage families to join in with the songs and rhymes and generally have fun with books.

A typical baby time session will consist of:

  • A welcome song
  • Rhymes
  • An age-appropriate story
  • Playtime with puppets and props
  • Time for children and parents to choose their library books and have a chat
  • A goodbye song

The main event

Our city-centre celebration this year will be held at Weston Park Museum, so we'll have some great spaces in which to hold our Bookstart Bird Boogie. Our hope is that the event will encourage new families not only to use the library service but also to visit Weston Park again in the future.

Planning for the event is already underway and we have six different activities lined up for our bird-themed areas in the museum:

  • A baby sensory area, which will include bird-themed sensory baskets and board books
  • A Bookstart Bird Boogie zone, with Music Man, songs, rhymes, shakers and instruments
  • A local performance art company session themed around the story A Busy Day for Birds
  • Craft activities using the National Bookstart Week resources supplied by BookTrust
  • A bird-themed parachute game
  • A story area and shared reading opportunity

Music Man at Sheffield Peace Gardens

Martin the Music Man entertains families at Sheffield Peace Gardens 

Ten top tips for event planners

Here are some of the key things we try to do in Sheffield to make sure that our National Bookstart Week events are as successful as possible:

  • Choose locations that are easily accessible for families to attend e.g. can be reached by public transport and are suitable for prams and pushchairs
  • If sessions aren’t held in a library, make sure everyone knows where their local library is situated and try to include a trail to the nearest library whenever possible
  • Work with partners to provide extra support and volunteers on the day
  • Publicise events early - get flyers and invites out for events as soon as possible and send out flyers to all partners who work with families with under-5s
  • Involve the communications team in the planning to ensure maximum media coverage
  • Make full use of social media by advertising events on library Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and Instagram
  • Send out ‘save the day’ invites to councillors and local dignitaries as early as possible to secure the date in their diary
  • Promote Bookstart-themed library baby times and story times for that week as special National Bookstart Week events
  • Have a wet-weather contingency plan in place if organising an outdoor event
  • Communicate with all staff involved with the events and make sure they are briefed well in advance and given a plan of action for the day

National Bookstart Week for us has always been so much fun and we are looking forward to this year’s events and activities. Hope you have a great time planning yours!

Explore this year's Bookstart Bird Boogie resources



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