Supporting families during the pandemic

BookTrust helped families across the country to engage with books and storytelling during lockdown, offering support, advice and free books to disadvantaged families who were hardest hit.

Reading can be an important escape for many children, and shared reading supports language development, confidence, communication skills and resilience. However, with schools and libraries closed for many weeks, many children were at risk of missing out.

Bookstart Baby packs secured for every NI baby born in 2020

BookTrust NI secured funding from the Department of Education to deliver Bookstart Baby packs to all babies born in 2020. Many new parents did not have access to the same support networks during this very difficult year. Sharing books, stories and rhymes with your child from an early age can help create a lifelong reader. Bookstart Baby packs aim to encourage a love of reading in children from as young an age as possible. Reading for pleasure has enormous benefits from helping to build confidence, and develop empathy, creativity and social skills, and is also a huge pleasure in itself.

BBC Community Life

BookTrust Northern Ireland and BBC Community Life

News story presented by Vinny Hurrell as part of BBC Northern Ireland's Community Life programme.

Lockdown and getting families reading

Liz Canning, BookTrust NI, on how BookTrust were able to get books to families during the lockdown period.

Impact of early book sharing

Ciara Boyd, Health Visitor, on the impact early book sharing can have on children.

Using care packages to form relationships with families

Mervyn Bell, Smile Sure Start, on the care packages being a great tool to form relationships with families.

Developing bonding and attachment

Karen Elwood, SEHSCT, on the importance of routine for developing bonding and attachment for babies.

Sharing books with babies

Belfast mums Linda and Atlanta on sharing books with their babies

Minister confirms funding for BookTrust’s Bookstart programme in Northern Ireland

Care package initiative delivered 20,000 books to families during lockdown

Working closely with local partners, BookTrust distributed ready-to-ship 'care packages' of books, tailored for early years, primary school-aged children (0-10 year olds). Partners can use these books as gifts left on doorsteps, presents for children in their care or to use in settings which remain open at this time. These book packages are being distributed across Sure Starts, schools, libraries, foodbanks, refuge centres, SEN schools and more, helping to close the gap caused by the pandemic and support families over the summer. In Northern Ireland BookTrust has delivered over 20,000 books to families in difficult circumstances as a direct response to the pandemic.

Jill Wells, Speech and Language Therapist, South Belfast Sure Start, says:

'We have used the books in South Belfast to give out to families in our area during the coronavirus lockdown. This has enabled us to do socially distanced doorstep visits to connect with our families and check they are managing ok and provide any support they may need. Families have really appreciated getting a book and the children have been so excited to get a present.'

HomeTime Hub

In April 2020, we launched the HomeTime Hub – a place where you could find ways to entertain your child at home... and it is full of activities for you to still access today!

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.

Check out the HomeTime Hub

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