A BookTrust pilot is supporting families and practitioners to share stories with their children in their early years
Published on: 26 April 2023
A new pilot from BookTrust is reaching families in disadvantaged areas across England, Wales and Northern Ireland with expertly designed and carefully curated packs of books, resources and activities that inspire families with children in their early years on their reading journeys.
Over the past eight months, BookTrust has been gifting newly developed Bookstart Toddler and Bookstart Pre-schooler book packs to families with children aged 1-2 and 3-4, respectively. These new resources provide families with creative, engaging opportunities to share books and stories together and lay the foundation for an ongoing reading habit.
The book packs are being gifted to children and families through BookTrust’s network of early years partners in the heart of communities across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. BookTrust partners include local authorities, early years settings (such as nurseries and children’s centres) and local charities and community groups. So far BookTrust has gifted more than 340,000 packs of books to children via 6,000 partners.
About the Bookstart Toddler and Bookstart Pre-schooler packs
The Bookstart Toddler and Bookstart Pre-schooler packs are designed to provide multiple opportunities to inspire and engage families who need more support to share stories together during their child’s early years and provide a follow-on intervention from Bookstart Baby, which is gifted to every child in their first year of life.
Diana Gerald, Chief Executive of BookTrust says: “At BookTrust we believe all children should be able to reap the life changing benefits that reading brings. Sharing stories and reading together with children from as early as possible is the best possible way to lay the foundation for an ongoing reading habit that can support the potential of disadvantaged children and give them the best start in life.
“Thanks to the support of our growing network of partners across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, we’ve able to reach thousands of children and families who need the most support, with our new book packs and resources, providing them with the opportunities and encouragement to build their confidence to share stories together.”
Accompanying resources for partners and early years practitioners
To complement the packs for families, BookTrust has also developed a set of accompanying resources for staff working in partner organisations and early years practitioners to use with the families they support. The Bookstart Storyteller Kit includes a selection of 11 expertly curated and age-appropriate books, activity cards and props to equip practitioners with tools they need to lead inspiring and engaging storytelling activities with children and families and encourage them to get the most out of their Bookstart packs.
The Bookstart Toddler and Pre-schooler and Storyteller packs were developed and tested in collaboration with families from low-income backgrounds and with expert early years practitioners from local authorities and partners across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The importance of shared reading in children’s early years
Whilst all children can benefit from developing an ongoing reading habit, the Bookstart Toddler and Bookstart Pre-schooler packs are specifically aimed at partners working in areas of high deprivation to reach children and families from low-income family backgrounds for whom reading can have a transformative and long-lasting impact on their future life chances.
“By working with local partners who have established relationships with families and know how best to inspire them, we hope our books, resources and support can be easily and flexibly incorporated into broader support they provide for children and families who need extra help on their reading journeys.” Diana Gerald.
Encouraging shared reading through multiple interventions throughout childhood is an important priority for BookTrust. Shared reading in the early years contributes to children’s language development, confidence, communication skills and emotional wellbeing and resilience. For children from disadvantaged backgrounds, research shows that reading has the potential to transform their life chances more than any other intervention in their early years.