“Libraries are places of comfort, friendly faces and opportunities. It’s an absolute privilege to do what I do”
Published on: 13 April 2023
Find out how libraries incorporate BookTrust’s books, resources and programmes into their work, engaging children on their reading journeys and inspiring them to explore the exciting world of books and stories available in their local library
“Libraries are one of the few free services left. They represent a chance for change. That’s why we need libraries more than ever.” -Vicky Hough, Early Years Coordinator for Bristol Libraries
“Thanks to the incredible outreach work of librarians, early years practitioners and Bookstart Coordinators across England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, BookTrust’s resources are being used in creative, practical and thoughtful ways to encourage families to start sharing stories together with their children as early as possible. Our relationship with libraries is vital to help us reach children who have more to gain from developing a regular reading habit, where reading has the potential to transform their life chances. We hope our books and resources continue to support library practitioners and encourage the next generation of readers to make sharing stories and visiting their local library a regular part of family life.” -Diana Gerald, CEO of BookTrust
Here are some examples of how we’re seeing librarians and practitioners encourage families with children in their early years to step inside their local library and discover the benefits reading can bring to their child’s social wellbeing, development and learning and creativity.
The value of having BookTrust resources to connect with families
Vicky Hough’s role with Bristol Libraries involves regular outreach work in her community. “A large percentage of my job is promoting libraries through the resources that BookTrust gives me,” she says. “When I’m invited to visit a school or a nursery, I go bearing BookTrust gifts, and I promote the library.
“The BookTrust resources really help me do my job. I can say things like: “Here’s a free book. Here are your free stickers. These come from BookTrust, and did you know, your local library is this way, it’s open and it’s free? You can come along to baby bounce and rhyme time, it's all free. Don't worry if your little one needs to run around, that’s ok!”
Vicky adds: “Libraries are places of sanctuary. They are places of comfort, friendly faces and opportunities to meet other people. It's an absolute privilege to do what I do and help promote a love of reading.”
Partnering with local children’s centres and health visitors to get families into libraries
Pam Readman, Senior Outreach Worker for Hartlepool Council, has worked in the library sector for more than 25 years. She delivers fun, interactive storytime sessions using BookTrust Toddler and BookTrust Pre-schooler resources in early years settings and develops partnerships with local organisations and community groups to encourage families to pay a visit to their library – often for the first time.
“Getting families into the library is hard if they don’t already visit us,” says Pam. “The BookTrust resources help us with this. We have the same targets as BookTrust, we’re trying to reach more families from deprived areas.
“Bookstart Toddler gives us an opportunity to go into nurseries with resources that children can actually take home - in Hartlepool, this is invaluable. Now we’ve developed a lot more partnerships, we’re getting more families coming to the library that belong to the demographics we’re targeting.
“We invited one local nursery in for an initial library visit. Those families then kept coming to the library again and again, and bringing the rest of their family or some friends next time.
“As an outreach worker, you feel like: “This is what we want. This is what makes it worthwhile” - to know we are reaching these families that the BookTrust resources will really make a difference to.”
Sharing stories, rhymes and books out in the community
Margaret Holt, Bookstart Coordinator for Cardiff Libraries delivers story and rhyme time sessions to a wide range of families, including those at breast-feeding workshops with health visitors, families visiting parents in prison through PACT, and families supported by Welsh Refugee Council.
“I remember doing sessions where there were some mums suffering from postnatal depression,” says Margaret. “Even having the baby with them at a session is a big step forward for them, so these sessions are so valuable.
“I always have BookTrust’s Bookstart Baby packs with me, so that I can pass the packs out to families who might not have received them from their health visitor.”
Margaret adds: “A rhyme time can give people the confidence to think: ‘I could share that rhyme or song at home….’ There’s the whole literacy element, they’re playing with language, they’re hearing a story, being given a BookTrust book at the end. These are all steps to enjoying books.”
Looking for something fun as a family? Enjoy storytime with our free online books and videos, play games, win prizes, test your knowledge in our book-themed quizzes, or even learn how to draw some of your favourite characters.