Bookstart in Northern Ireland

It was announced in June 2020 that the Department of Education is to part-fund the Bookstart programme in Northern Ireland.

This will allow BookTrust NI to extend its delivery of Bookstart Baby bags and books to all families in the region. Find out more.

BookTrust NI is still working hard to develop its funding model so that even more NI children and families have access to the life-changing benefits that books can bring.

Arts Council NI Stories Tours

Arts council stories tour montageIn partnership with Arts Council NI, BookTrust brings early years authors to Northern Ireland for visits at nurseries, schools and arts centres. Previous tours have featured Julia Donaldson, Nick Sharratt, Petr Horácek, Chris Haughton, Ed Vere, Steven Lenton and Ireland's Laureate na nÓg PJ Lynch.

The latest news from Bookstart NI

Free books for toddlers as BookTrust NI and SONI celebrate their ongoing partnership to get more children reading

Image of the BookTrust SONI Garvagh event in August 2018

This August, local pre-school children in Garvagh enjoyed a morning of storytime and rhymes - and got their very own Bookstart pack to take home.

The event, held at Appletree Childcare centre, celebrated the partnership between BookTrust and SONI (System Operator for Northern Ireland), which encourages early book sharing by providing Bookstart packs in the Garvagh and Armagh areas.

Children were treated to an interactive performance led by A Place to Wonder - including a Rocking Robin-themed story and sensory singing session - with plenty of laughter, fun and feathers.

This year, thanks to the partnership, over 1,000 babies and toddlers will benefit from the Bookstart packs, which are specially designed and contain books, resources and guidance for parents on the importance of reading with their child.

Local children boogie with the birds to celebrate National Bookstart Week 2018

Kids at WOW in Belfast for national Bookstart Week

Children from Ravenscroft Nursery celebrated BookTrust’s National Bookstart Week 2018 at Belfast's Window on Wildlife in Belfast Harbour on 4 June 2018.

The children took part in a bird-themed reading and rhyming adventure led by Libraries NI before having a tour of the Wetlands Centre. The launch, and subsequent events in libraries and Sure Start centres, was supported by Belfast Harbour as part of the award-winning partnership with BookTrust NI.

This year’s theme, Bookstart Bird Boogie, was based on the fun picture book A Busy Day for Birds by Lucy Cousins, which was given out to every child who attended the launch.

The event at Belfast’s Window on Wildlife was one of many celebrations and events taking place across Northern Ireland during the week, as over 6,000 books were gifted to pre-school children by BookTrust.

Alex T. Smith visits Belfast schools to help inspire a love of reading

Alex T Smith in NI

Claude author Alex T. Smith met with over 250 pupils in Belfast as part of the BookTrust NI Author Tour supported by Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

Alex spent time at four primary schools, encouraging children to enjoy reading and sharing stories, beginning at Fleming Fulton School in South Belfast.

He went on to visit St Therese of Lisieux Primary School in North Belfast, Castle Gardens Primary School in Newtownards and Dundonald Primary School in Dundonald.

Each child received a copy of Alex's book Mr Penguin - which he signed for them - and enjoyed an hour-long workshop about writing and illustration.

National Bookstart Week 2017 

NI National Bookstart WeekIn 2017, National Bookstart Week was extra special as we celebrated 25 years of helping families enjoy reading together through the Bookstart programme.

The theme was Let’s Explore Outdoors! and the chosen book was Everybunny Dance! by Ellie Sandall - a lovely tale of friendship between a warren of musical bunnies and a friendly fox.

The NI launch event on 5 June was held at Streamvale Farm in conjunction with Fane Street Nursery School and Belfast Harbour. Staff, parents and children gathered in the Swallows Barn for singing and dancing as children were read Everybunny Dance! and took part in a fun-filled rhyme session led by a local librarian.

In partnership with Libraries NI and Sure Starts across Northern Ireland, 4,000 copies of Everybunny Dance! were gifted to children at Rhythm & Rhyme sessions.

BookTrust NI partners with SONI to deliver Bookstart Baby

SONI NI event with Polly Poppet A new partnership between BookTrust NI and SONI (System Operator for Northern Ireland) will see 1,000 local babies receive Bookstart packs. The partnership will ensure that Bookstart Baby can be gifted free to Sure Start families in the Armagh and Dungannon areas.

Liz Canning, BookTrust NI Manager, said: 'We at BookTrust NI are delighted to be working in conjunction with SONI. This partnership will benefit families in the Armagh area, helping get their babies started on their reading journey and towards a lifelong love of books and stories.'

Children's entertainer Polly Poppet joined the celebrations at the new venture's launch at Armagh City Library.

You might also like

More from BookTrust NI

Find out what we do

Through our reader development programmes and work as an arts organisation, BookTrust in Northern Ireland makes a positive impact on children, families and local communities.

What's happening?

Stay up to date

Make sure you don't miss a thing with our news and features about everything to do with the children's book world.

Themed booklists

Find a great book for your child

Looking for the best book for a 5-year-old? Trying to find something great to read out loud? We may well have the answer – just see for yourself.