Books and libraries have always been an important part of Ruth’s life - and now as the mother to baby Florence aged 4 months, it’s something Ruth knows she wants for her daughter too.
Illustration: Kate Alizadeh
Learning about Bookstart and receiving the pack
“A friend of mine from Wales told me about Bookstart when I was pregnant and I looked it up on Facebook. It said that I could order a book pack which I did before Florence was born. I emailed the local contact and pretty much got an immediate response.
When Florence was a few weeks old, I rang the library to arrange to pick up the Bookstart Baby pack and opened it up when I got home. Every little helps at the moment. There are so many families who are really struggling financially, and it's lovely to know Bookstart is there, for everyone.
We’ve read the books from the Bookstart baby pack a few times. The books are age specific for Florence. They are very tactile and of a lovely quality. I wasn’t expecting that to be honest.
I thought the finger puppets were really sweet. Now Florence is looking around more, I think she’ll appreciate the finger puppets more. My husband is really looking forward to interacting with Florence and I think he’ll find the finger puppets really useful and fun. The yellow Bookstart bag is handy too - it’s hard to lose which is good!
Introducing Florence to books and why that’s important to Ruth
I tend to get books out regularly and we’ll have a little look together. It’s nice to get into a routine of reading to Florence especially at night-time. But we also have books in the day time too. Generally we’ll sit on the sofa, she’ll have her have milk, and I’ll read a book to her.
I like surrounding her in a comfortable environment and making a safe space for her. It's something pleasurable and relaxing for us both. We turn the TV off and if there is any music, it's quiet in the background. Normally we read before a nap when it's winding down time.
There have been a few times when she’s not been interested in the book, or the puppy has come along and tried to eat it! But she’s enjoying looking at pictures and colours and I think she also likes listening to my voice when I read, it’s a nice time to have a bit of bonding.
With so much digital technology around, I really think there’s nothing better than a book. It’s so tactile, a sense of something real for a child. She loves it when I turn pages. Little things like that are so important for children.
Reading is an activity that doesn’t take a lot of organising, especially for a busy mum. You can pick up a book and put it down if you need to and pick it up later.
Illustration: Kip Alizadeh
Importance of libraries
I think libraries are priceless and I want to get Florence used to the library and that space as soon as I can. There’s something about going to a library and picking out a book on your own. Children get to take books home and its their responsibility to look after it and take them back the next week. I think that’s really special. There’s not so many things children can pick out themselves at that age. Your clothes are picked out for you, you’re given food on a plate to eat. But you are allowed to pick your own book.
I hope Florence will always have an interest in books. But it has to come from her. Not every child is a bookworm and she might discover that she prefers doing something else which we’ll support.”