Celebrating Libraries Week with BookTrust Storytime

Published on: 03 October 2021

It's Libraries Week, and we're here to celebrate our libraries and the amazing work they do.

This year's focus for Libraries Week is 'Taking Action and Changing Lives', so read on to find out how our new national pilot BookTrust Storytime is trying to do just that!

The BookTrust Storytime owl and some of the BookTrust Storytime resources we're giving to libraries

It's been a tough time for libraries recently. The Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns have affected us all, but libraries and librarians rose to the occasion and did everything they could to keep offering a lifeline to so many children and families who rely on them.

We've heard incredible stories over the last 18 months of librarians doing live storytime sessions for children from their kitchen tables and offering click and collect services even when their libraries were closed - anything they could do to keep their community connections alive and provide much-needed access to books and stories.

Librarians are experts at inspiring children and families to read and they provide so many essential services - but there are still too many families with young children who are missing out on this support in their everyday lives.

There is even a generation of children born just before or during the pandemic who will never have visited a library before. They've never had the chance to lose themselves in a world of books or see their local librarian bringing a story to life.

At BookTrust, we want to know how we can inspire new families to visit their local library and explore what's available for them. This matters because sharing stories is invaluable for children in their early years. It can have a lifelong positive impact on health, wellbeing, creativity and education.

For children from disadvantaged backgrounds who face the biggest barriers to developing a regular habit of reading, the benefits of books can be even more transformative.

Creating BookTrust Storytime

The BookTrust Storytime books: Arlo The Lion Who Couldn't Sleep, Lenny and Wilbur, I Really Really Need a Wee, Octopus Shocktopus, No Said Rabbit, and The Whales on the Bus

That's why we've created BookTrust Storytime, a national pilot which aims to test new ways to support disadvantaged families with children aged 0-5 to enjoy books and stories together and make visiting their local library a regular and long-lasting part of family life.

Our pilot is a true collaboration that we could not have done alone - it's funded by Arts Council England and has been developed together in partnership with libraries, local authorities, organisations including ASCEL, CILIP and Libraries Connected, and families.

They've all been involved the entire way through, from developing innovative ideas to testing concepts and how they might work in a library setting and reviewing the design of resources and the overall family experience.

Every library in England has been invited to take part in BookTrust Storytime and can receive a pack of shortlisted books that have been chosen by an expert panel for reading aloud - they'll also receive digital support and resources.

We're also working with different groups of libraries to test a whole range of digital and physical resources that families can discover in their local library. Some libraries are using the shortlisted books to run live storytime sessions for children for six weeks, as a fun way to engage families and demonstrate how to read aloud.

Other libraries are trying out innovative materials and activities such as collectables that children can gather on their visits and activity books with fun things to do that relate to the stories they are reading. Some libraries are running scavenger hunts, have memory makers where families can take fun photos, or are using sticker voting charts to find out how people are enjoying the different books.

Every library is different

A photo of a girl looking through library books

The beauty of libraries is that they work to serve their local communities. Our pilot has been designed to test different approaches in different libraries, and to empower librarians who know their area to deliver the books, activities and resources in a way that will connect with their local families.

Many of the libraries are also using their networks and relationships with early years settings and other services to reach out to new families who might not be used to visiting the library.

Some of the libraries will start to roll out some of the activities and resources over Libraries Week, while others may do so later. And as it's a pilot, not every library will have the same resources and activities available for families to enjoy. Due to ongoing Covid restrictions, some libraries are also having to restrict the numbers of people that can take part in the sessions or might require families to sign up in advance.

So if you're interested in finding out more about BookTrust Storytime, check out our library finder - it can help you to identify the closest library running BookTrust Storytime events and activities this autumn.

As it all starts to take shape, we'll be working really closely with families, libraries and librarians to learn how we can best support disadvantaged families to engage with sharing stories and visiting their local library, so all children can enjoy the magic of reading.

We're taking action with our library partners and we hope to change lives too.

Find out more about BookTrust Storytime

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