National Bookstart Week: A week of activities that can last a lifetime

Published on: 20 May 2018 Author: Charlotte Rowland

Mum Charlotte Rowland had never heard of Rhymetimes or National Bookstart Week before she had her son. Now, she tells us how much of a huge impact they have had on her family...

Charlotte Rowland and her son

I look back on my maternity leave with fondness but, if I'm completely honest, through a bit of a foggy, sleep-deprived haze. But there are some moments throughout my son's life that have stuck with me and are as clear today as ever.

There was the day in the park where we played, chatted and sang in the sun and my son got the giggles for the first time - I don't remember ever feeling as happy. Another moment was having some (much-needed) coffee with my new mum friends and feeling like these were people I could really relate to for the first time in ages.

There's a long list of those moments, but they've all taken my breath away and stayed with me as I've returned to work.

And there's something that has underpinned all of these experiences and memories – the books, songs and rhymes that are woven deeply through my family's daily life.

You don't suddenly know these songs and rhymes when your child is born - they're learned. And for me, they have come almost exclusively from the Rhymetimes I visited during my maternity leave.

A National Bookstart Week session that changed everything

That particular coffee afternoon I mentioned was after my favourite wriggle and rhyme session of all – the one that took place during National Bookstart Week last year. I'd arrived at the library frazzled, tired, and fraught with the rush of trying to get out of the house.

Charlotte Rowland's son

I hadn't realised it was National Bookstart Week, but our Rhymetime leader, Tina, made it the most amazing session. The book was Everybunny Dance! and we were all given free books and read the story together.

The atmosphere was lovely and no matter how old the children were, they were enthralled. I'd never felt so included and involved before. And all of the activities planned around the week – the online resources, activities, crafts and songs - taught me so much about how to educate and engage my boy.

I learned that a book is just the start – the crafts, songs, activities and rhymes that can be spun out of them can create a whole world for your child to delight in.

My son is growing more independent every day and will now try and read me stories. He'll take a book from the shelf, carry it to a chair and point and read to me. He can make animal noises and has a good collection of words – all which have grown from his exploration of books and songs.

This year, I plan to make even more of National Bookstart Week and I encourage you to do the same. Whether it's in your own home printing off some crafts to fill a rainy afternoon, gathering ideas for new songs and rhymes to sing in the car or getting involved at a local event, there's something to inspire everyone.

Charlotte Rowland's son

Enjoying A Busy Day for Birds

This year's National Bookstart Week book A Busy Day for Birds is one of our favourites. We went to the zoo recently and I couldn't stop laughing at my son standing on one leg like a flamingo and 'showing off his tail and wiggling his feathers' when he saw a peacock.

I'm looking forward to a lovely morning making masks, singing, colouring in and, of course, reading together. These resources, available online, are just some of the ways that you can explore this wonderful world.

Charlotte Rowland's son

I always knew I'd enjoy being a mum but I have been surprised at where the joys have come from. I'd never heard about Rhymetimes or National Bookstart Week before, and now I feel that they're one of the most defining elements of my motherhood.

The skills that both my son and I have learned from them will last us a lifetime and I hope I never forget these moments and memories (even the ones where I try and calm down a screaming baby on a bus with 'Hickory Dickory Dock').

Charlotte Rowland's son

Our whole family love storytime. It's our opportunity to spend time with each other and see our son develop new skills, language and an understanding of the world through reading. It has brought such joy and, I hope, will continue to do so for many years to come.

Find out more about National Bookstart Week

Watch Charlotte and her son reading A Busy Day for Birds together

Add a comment

You might also like

Storytime with Ore Oduba

Enjoy A Busy Day for Birds

Read along with A Busy Day for Birds, brought to life by Strictly winner and new dad Ore Oduba in our special National Bookstart Week storytime video.

Activities and rhymes

Have some fun

Excited about celebrating National Bookstart Week with us? You can find some great activities and rhymes to enjoy with your little ones right here.

How books helped my family

Why reading is so important

Mum Jess Hible never expected to get post-natal depression when she welcomed her third child. She tells us how reading with her new arrival helped them to bond.