Rhymetime Award winner

For all those who nominated their local Rhymetime, thank you! We were overwhelmed by the huge number of responses, showing just how much support and love families have for Rhymetime. We shortlisted to five finalists. These were chosen because of the great work they do, going above and beyond to engage parents and children, running specialist sessions and much, much more.


Tina Fellows

Early Years Literacy Officer and Storyteller, Lambeth Libraries

Tina Fellows We are very pleased to announce that the winner of the Bookstart 25th Anniversary Rhymetime Award is Tina Fellows of Lambeth Libraries.

Tina delivers Rhymetimes across several sites in Lambeth, including the Myatt’s Field Community Centre and Brixton and West Norwood Libraries.

Undeterred by the closure of a library in Streatham, Tina even set up a Rhymetime in a local pub with a community library, to ensure families had something to take their children to. She recognises both the learning and emotional support opportunities Rhymetimes can offer parents and carers who can sometimes feel isolated.

Tina received nominations from families across all her sites. Many mentioned the fun and energy of her Rhymetime sessions, as well as the gentle personal touch which makes them feel connected to other parents and carers. One stated: 'Tina is someone who cares about literacy, about inclusion and makes everyone feel welcome. She has helped me more than she knows. And in turn, my son.'

Several quoted how contact with Tina and other families had helped them through quite difficult times.

Tina is expert at demonstrating to families how they can use rhymes and songs with their children, as well as introducing them to wider information about Bookstart and the help and resources they can find in libraries and children’s centres.

 Tina Fellows

Tina says:

'It is wonderful to have won and I thank all who nominated. The collective work of Lambeth Library staff, Bookstart Coordinator Abibat Olulode and Head of Lambeth Libraries Susanna Barnes is the reason Wriggle and Rhyme Story Sessions are of quality, valued and enjoyed within libraries and community settings such as The Railway Tea Rooms.

To win has been an “Oh My Goodness” mega moment! With a Quality Seal of Approval from BookTrust we can provide training to other local authorities and community groups.

As an Early Years Literacy Officer and Storyteller, I provide rhyme and story sessions throughout the borough that are inclusive, interactive and fun. I gift the various Bookstart packs, provide a home visiting service and encourage library membership for all ages.

I love what I do because I believe in the importance of literacy for all and aim to provide a little positive difference to the lives of families I am fortunate to meet.

Bookstart has provided many wonderful moments of gifting - when a baby looks at a book and the parent realises that their baby is enjoying and learning from a book. BookTrust brings clarity to the importance of early literacy for babies and young children and the positive benefits it brings.

An often-heard phrase in sessions is: “You are your child’s first and most consistent teacher, they learn from you." The gift of reading that parents and carers can give to their children is priceless, it is a gift for life.'


Adrian White

Library and Information Assistant, Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library

Adrian WhiteAdrian was selected as runner-up due to his understated, yet comprehensive and engaging Rhymetime sessions.

Adrian calmly and gently shows parents and carers how to say and sing rhymes, demonstrating in detail the movements and sounds and explaining the different ways these can benefit their children.

Adrian works to ensure parents and children are all actively involved and shows how fun and special that time together can be. In the middle of each session he takes a break to hand out board books for children to engage with, encouraging parents and carers to look through them with their child and talk about what they are seeing. 

He also provides lots of signposting and other general support for parents and carers. He has been running Rhymetime for seven years and is always looking for new ideas, including introducing different language rhymes.

Adrian says:

'Child development and fun are the same thing, that’s what it’s all about. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen a room full of adults pretending to be frogs while gazing at their babies!'

'I love seeing the smiles on the faces of parents and babies, having them join in so enthusiastically and seeing the infants develop. I always finish Bookstart Babytime totally buzzing, and you meet such great people week after week.'

Other finalists

Suzy Hill

Bookstart and Library Literacy Coordinator, Darlington Libraries

Suzy HillSuzy was selected as a finalist due to the wonderful feedback received from families and the clear love that she holds for Rhymetimes.

Suzy works to ensure that all parents and carers are involved and kept interested, using a variety of fun elements. She clearly also supports them emotionally, offering opportunities to chat with other families and staff.

She constantly works to instil a love of books in children and parents, supporting those who need extra help, and has created a real sense of community with her sessions.

Suzy says:

'I can’t begin to express how delighted I am to have been nominated for this award by our families.'

'Due to demand, our Bookstart Rhymetime sessions have gone from being held once every other week between our two libraries to where we stand today, with eight well attended in-house sessions per week.'

Paula Keaton

Senior Library Assistant, Rainhill Library, St Helens

Paula KeatonPaula was chosen due to the immense passion she holds for her Rhymetime, evidenced in the many nominations from families that talked about how much they value her sessions. She supports children in their development and helps those who start her sessions feeling shy to become more confident.

She gently encourages parents and carers to join in and build up their own skills. Throughout her Rhymetimes she uses different formats to ensure adults and children alike are continually engaged, including a musical walk together around the library. She always promotes book-sharing and library book borrowing during the sessions.

Paula says:

'It’s good to have national recognition for delivering a quality Rhymetime to show what great work goes on in St Helens Libraries for under-5s, and the contribution this makes to language, communication and literacy development. It’s good to hear that parents and families value what we do.'

'I love what I do as I get to see the children learn, develop and have fun - it’s so rewarding.'

'Bookstart reinforces the work we do developing a love of reading and the importance of sharing rhymes and stories. It’s a recognised, quality brand and its resources allow us to connect children and parents to books. St Helens has its very own Bookstart Bear who visits libraries regularly and encourages children to read - he has a better social life than me!'

Lindsey McFarlane

Library Development Officer, London Borough of Sutton 
Lindsey McFarlane

Lindsey was selected due to the inspiring voluntary work she does alongside the normal Rhymetime format, going into hospitals to deliver sessions and also running special sessions for disabled students.

She has been promoting the joy of reading through Rhymetimes for 15 years, running holiday sessions in parks and at local festivals, and has created Rhymetime guides for other members of staff.

Lindsey says:

'Being nominated for this award is such a boost for the effort our staff make to keep Rhymetimes fun with the Bookstart CD and the crocodile puppet at each library.'

'Parents tell me wonderful stories of what the library and the children’s singing has meant to them - they even break into the "Hello" song when they see me at the school gate! A pair of sisters who arrived in Britain with no English and came to all our sessions are doing very well at high school and are reading well above the average.'

Meet the winners of the Bookstart Coordinator, Baby Gifting Partner and Treasure Gifting Partner Awards

Meet the winners of the Bookstart Corner and Additional Needs Gifting Partner Awards