BookTrust Storytime returns to Northern Ireland to help make visiting the library a regular part of family life
Published on: 02 November 2023
BookTrust's programme for engaging families with visiting their local library has scaled up in Northern Ireland with support from Libraries NI.
BookTrust has launched BookTrust Storytime once again in Northern Ireland. Thanks to support from Libraries NI, BookTrust Storytime will now take place in Northern Ireland's public libraries, enabling more families to participate than ever before. The programme will add high-quality children's books to each library's permanent collection.
With funding secured in Northern Ireland until March 2024, BookTrust Storytime provides libraries with five specially shortlisted books that are great for sharing with babies and children in their early years and a specially designed suite of resources that libraries use to create a range of memorable experiences and activities to attract new families and introduce them to a fun, lively and inclusive library environment where sharing stories can become the norm.
The BookTrust Storytime resources include activity sheets to accompany the shortlisted books, materials that encourage exploration of libraries and certificates and sticker books that librarians use to engage children and bring Storytime sessions to life. Digital resources are also available for librarians to use flexibly to create interactive, memorable experiences for families that keep them returning to their local libraries.
BookTrust Storytime is designed to support library staff across Northern Ireland, England and Wales to inspire and engage families with children under five to share stories together and encourage them to make visiting their local public library a regular part of family life. The programme has a particular focus on low-income families who are new to or less likely to use their local library.
Chris Eisenstadt, Senior Engagement Manager and Director of BookTrust's Northern Ireland Office, said: "It's fantastic to be bringing BookTrust Storytime to libraries all over Northern Ireland once again. The programme is part of our wider approach to offer families from low-income backgrounds multiple chances to share stories with their children throughout their early years, so they can enjoy the lifechanging benefits of reading.
"An impactful storytime experience needs brilliant librarians who are experts in supporting children and families and a fabulous selection of books that capture the imagination and curiosity of even the youngest children. BookTrust Storytime equips these librarians with resources and inspiration to create storytelling sessions that encourage families to nurture a positive a relationship with reading together.
"We will be seeking additional funding avenues to ensure BookTrust Storytime can continue engaging families with the vital support on offer at their local library beyond March 2024."
BookTrust estimates 50,000 children under five used or engaged with BookTrust Storytime when 2,378 libraries across England and Northern Ireland took part in the 2022-23 edition of the programme.
Of these libraries, 71% said BookTrust Storytime helped support their work in engaging with children under 5. They also said 70% of participating families returned to their library after their initial visit, while 60% said new families signed up to the library as a result of attending BookTrust Storytime sessions, or using the resources.
BookTrust NI's Chris Eisenstadt and his son with the BookTrust Storytime books, joined by Libraries NI staff - Dr Mary-Ellen Lynn, Area Manager Belfast City and Aisling Press, District Officer Belfast City
BookTrust's Chris Eisenstadt continues: "Libraries have been working closely with local groups and their wider communities using the BookTrust Storytime shortlisted books and resources creatively to encourage new families into their libraries.
"We're incredibly grateful to all our library partners in Northern Ireland and all the shortlisted authors and illustrators for their continued support."
Brid Steele, Libraries NI Service Development Manager, commented: "We continue to be grateful for BookTrust's support and this year the five books were a welcome addition to library stock across the branch libraries. The books will be used in the ongoing work of libraries to reach children in communities in order to give each child the best possible start in life."