Making new friends through BookTrust Storytime: “We wouldn't have met if it wasn't for coming here. The library is a really friendly place”

Published on: 10 February 2023

Lucy met fellow new mum and now friend Zavanah at a BookTrust Storytime experience in Fakenham Library, Norfolk.

Lucy and Zavanah with their children at BookTrust StorytimeLucy and Zavanah with their children at BookTrust Storytime

Lucy was out for a walk with her three-month-old son, Milo, when she first caught a glimpse of a BookTrust Storytime session. She saw parents sitting in a group, cuddling their babies on the library floor, while Donna, the enthusiastic librarian read and shared pictures and rhymes from colourful books.

“I came into the library to have Milo weighed and while I was in there, a Storytime session was on,” she says. “We’ve been attending ever since.”

“I thought Storytime would be really good for Milo’s social skills and interaction with others. For myself, it was nice to come out and meet people because I'm new to the area.”

The start of a new friendship

BookTrust Storytime is a pilot being delivered in partnership with local authorities and libraries that aims to encourage families with children aged 0-5, especially those who aren’t regular library users, to share stories together and make visiting their library a regular part of family life.

Many libraries are using specially shortlisted books that are great for sharing with babies and young children to hold interactive Storytime sessions, which can encourage families to make repeat visits to their local library.

While attending BookTrust Storytime sessions at Fakenham Library, Lucy befriended Zavanah, mum to nine-month-old Elvis. In Zavanah, she found someone she could chat to about her son and his development. Their friendship soon progressed outside of the Storytime sessions.

“Outside of here, we socialise regularly and message one another,” Lucy says. “It's been really great.”

Lucy and Zavanah and their children at BookTrust StorytimeLucy and Zavanah and their children at BookTrust Storytime

Zavanah says: “Lucy and I have done a lot together since we met at Storytime! We’ve been to the zoo and come to Storytime each week. It gives us some mum time as well as time for the babies.

“It’s definitely made me think about reading more books to him. Having spoken to the librarian they gave us an estimate of how many books roughly he should be reading by the time he’s six years old. It's given me an incentive to work towards, and to encourage him to boost his vocabulary as he starts speaking.

“Now, when I go over to Lucy's, there are always books on the floor. We've always got them to hand, because the babies love interacting with stories.

“I’d definitely recommend coming to Storytime. We've gained a really good friendship out of it. We wouldn't have met if it wasn't for coming here, and we're grateful for that.”

Bringing babies to the library for a Storytime session

When you’ve never stepped inside a library before, the idea of it can feel daunting. With BookTrust Storytime sessions, library staff are working hard to show parents that libraries are friendly, welcoming and fun spaces full of fantastic books that are suitable for babies and young children.

“It's a really positive environment,” says Zavanah. “I think people get a bit nervous, entering somewhere new for the first time. I want them to know the library is a really friendly place.

She adds: “If you're worried about your child sitting still or being quiet in the library or misbehaving, you don’t need to worry. Elvis is here, there and everywhere, but the library staff say: ‘Don’t worry about it, it’s absolutely fine, just let them play, let them do what they want to do.’

“Sometimes [Lucy and I] don't go out as much as we'd like to. Knowing we have a session to look forward to, where the babies can interact with each other and we can interact with other adults is a really, really nice experience for us.”

It’s National Make a Friend Day! How about celebrating by becoming a BookTrust Friend and supporting experiences like BookTrust Storytime that help get families and children reading?

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?

More about BookTrust Storytime