Bookstart Toddler and Pre-Schooler

Welcome to the dedicated space for Bookstart Toddler and Pre-Schooler, a new early years pilot designed for families who may need a hand to get started with reading.

Here, you’ll find information and tools to help you support families on their reading adventures. Check back regularly for new information, activities and resources.

About the Storyteller and Family packs – what’s inside and how you could use it. 

Download resources and get booklists, more activities and library info for families.

Help us improve our offer by letting us know what you think.

Coming soon: a video introduction to our new pilot

Film grab

Bookstart Toddler and Pre-schooler pilot: your questions answered

  • Who is the target audience for these resources?

    Our target audience for these resources is low-income children aged 1-4 and their families, who may need more help to make shared reading a regular part of their lives. The offer has been designed in collaboration with partners and with families from our target groups.

    Partners have used many different approaches to find the best routes to families; overall these could be described as:

    • Geographical – where partners have identified settings or routes working in areas of higher deprivation

    And/or

    • Identifying routes or organisations that, by their nature, reach families in our target groups.

    There has been much work to define the multiple ways to do this in greater detail – with a range of methods having been used by participating partners.

  • What is the aim of the pilot?

    The Bookstart Toddler and Pre-schooler pilot aims to:

    • Provide more target families with the tools and information that they need to support and excite them about sharing stories together
    • Provide our partners with tools and information to support their work with families
    • Contribute to learning what support target families need for sharing stories together in the early years – and where, when and how BookTrust and partners may best provide this support
    • Find successful routes to reaching families
    • Inform how we can better support our partners’ work with families.
  • How can I make best use of the resources?

    Storyteller pack

    The Storyteller pack is a toolkit developed to support our partners in sharing stories with families. It can be used in settings with families as part of group storytelling sessions, or with individual families at home.

    You can share the books, use props to help bring them to life, and explore the activity cards for further suggestions on how to extend the story.

    Help families to see how they can replicate the storytelling experience at home by pointing out what you’re doing, building their confidence and emphasising that it doesn’t need to be perfect for their child to enjoy it!

    Toddler

    Bookstart Toddler packs have been designed for 1-2 year-old children. When gifting the packs, you can highlight some of the messaging printed on the pack envelope, such as how they can access further activities on our Family Hub, or how they can join their local library.

    If you have time, you can even try modelling for families how you might use the books and resources with a child – showing, for example, how parents/carers can use the finger puppet as a character through which to tell the story or sing a rhyme.

    Pre-schooler

    Bookstart Pre-schooler packs have been designed for 3-4 year-old children. When gifting the packs, you can highlight some of the messaging printed on the pack envelope, such as how they can access further activities on our Family Hub, or how they can join their local library.

    If you have time, you can even try modelling for families how you might use the books and resources with a child – showing, for example, how One Banana, Two Bananas can be used to help the child with counting.

  • What resources, other than the gifted packs, are available for families?

    Alongside the physical packs, we have also created a digital Family Hub on which families can find further activities, read-along videos, book suggestions and advice on reading with their child. Families can access the Hub via a QR code on the back of their pack, or by going to booktrust.org.uk/familyhub.

  • How does this pilot link to BookTrust’s other work?

    In England

    Bookstart Toddler and Pre-schooler are just one part of BookTrust’s early years reading journey.

    Every baby born in England receives a Bookstart Baby pack, gifted by Health Visitors, Registrars and other early years professionals during the baby’s first year of life. This is a free pack of books and resources, designed to support and encourage families to read with their child as early as possible.

    We also offer BookTrust Storytime, which aims to engage families with children aged 0-5 – especially those on low incomes – in their local library and encourages them to explore a range of books and stories. As part of the offer, families can enjoy free activities, Storytime sessions and a welcoming space to have fun together – as well as being offered the chance to vote for their favourite story on the BookTrust Storytime Prize shortlist.

    We also offer free SEN packs and dual-language books and resources for children aged 0-5, to support access to books and the opportunity to enjoy reading.

    For more on how to gift these packs, and for information on all of our early years offers, please go to booktrust.org.uk/storyteller.

    In Northern Ireland

    Bookstart Toddler and Pre-schooler are just one part of BookTrust’s early years reading journey.

    Every baby born in Northern Ireland receives a Bookstart Baby pack from their Health Visitor, usually at the 12-14 week or 6-9 month check. This is a free pack of books and resources, designed to support and encourage families to read with their child as early as possible, and has been part-funded by the Department of Education since June 2020.

    As children start school, life at home can become hectic and it can be hard to balance homework with reading for fun. We know that reading together has a positive impact on children’s imagination, language, and emotional wellbeing. Reading together regularly as a family will also create a fun, safe space for children to express themselves. Our Time to Read packs, gifted to all Primary One pupils, are funded by the Education Authority, and each pack contains top tips for sharing stories as a family, as well as some creative materials to enable children to explore the story beyond the book.

    For more on how to gift these packs, and for information on all of our early years programmes, please go to booktrust.org.uk/storyteller.

  • How will the pilot be evaluated?

    We are evaluating the pilot on several levels – through a mixture of quantitative broad-scaled learning and more qualitative conversations with individual families and partners.

    As part of our broad-scaled learning, which we are conducting mainly through family and partner surveys, we will be looking to find out more about who our offer is reaching, and gathering some initial impressions about how partners and families are engaging with our resources.

    Alongside this, we are also planning to work more closely with some of our partners and families to understand in more detail the impact that packs are making and how they might be improved.

  • If I have further queries or questions, who can I contact?

    Please email enquires@booktrust.org.uk, specifying your local authority, and one of our BookTrust Regional Managers will be in touch.