"I have so many lovely memories of doing story times in children's centres now. Having the BookTrust packs as a 'way in' has been really important"

Published on: 16 January 2024

Evie Loy O'Neill, a London-based librarian, describes how BookTrust's packs help her reach new families via children's centres, where she shares stories, book packs and information to support low-income families to read together.

Librarian Evie sharing a story

Evie says:

"I'm a Children and Communities Librarian. I'm also a BookTrust Coordinator for Richmond. This means I have sole responsibility for BookTrust's programmes in the whole London borough.

"Every day is different. We have 12 libraries in the borough and all of them deliver story times for children.

"Building parents' relationships with libraries is the bread and butter of what we do. It's not the easiest thing in the world. One way we do it is by gifting families the BookTrust packs. BookTrust is a really important piece of who we are and what we offer. The resources are key to helping more families feel the library is a place where they belong."

'Eye-opening' partnerships with children's centres through BookTrust

Librarian Evie sharing a story

"In Richmond, we really focus on areas that have the highest level of need for giving families the targeted Bookstart Toddler and Pre-schooler packs. Working with children's centres has been eye-opening. We got in touch with these settings and distributed the BookTrust packs to families through them. This meant I was able to ask if I could also come in and do story time sessions.

"Having the BookTrust packs as a 'way in' has been really important. I went along to a couple of invite-only sessions for families who were either on low incomes or who had children with additional needs. I chatted with different people I wouldn't normally come across in our libraries.

"It was a targeted group, so I knew that everyone I was talking to had more to their story. I handed out leaflets to parents about what libraries offer. I probably wouldn't have gone into children's centres at all if it weren't for the BookTrust packs."

Showing parents the reading support available at their local library

Librarian Evie sharing a story

Almost one year on, Evie is going to five out of the six children's centres in Richmond to deliver monthly story time sessions.

"I have so many lovely memories of doing story times in children's centres now," she says. "I remember one parent who'd come along to this stay-and-play session just to hear some stories. English wasn't her first language, and she hadn't visited our libraries before. She had six-month-old twins. During story time, I read some of the interactive pop-out board books from BookTrust. The twins' eyes were so focused on what was happening.

Librarian Evie sharing a story

"Afterwards, I showed this mum all the different ways she could use the book to interact with her children - like moving the book from side to side, and showing them all the different pictures. She was so happy and grateful to take these BookTrust books home to use with her babies. I was also able to tell her about our baby rhyme time sessions at the library, and that she could also get the Bookstart Baby pack for her two daughters.

"It was a great opportunity to talk to this mum about all the things happening in our libraries, and the free resources she can access. She was someone I probably wouldn't have spoken to if I hadn't built the relationships with children's centres through the Bookstart Toddler and Preschooler packs. There's a million examples like this I could give you."

Sign up for our newsletter

Stay up to date with BookTrust by signing up to one of our newsletters and receiving great articles, competitions and updates straight to your inbox.

Join us