Creating fun and excitement with BookTrust’s packs: “It’s a whole other experience”

Published on: 06 November 2023

At BookTrust, we work with early years practitioners to inspire families to read together. We visited our partners at a children’s centre in Rotherham to see how our Bookstart Toddler and Pre-schooler packs are creating memorable gifting moments for children and families.

The playroom at Brookfield Children’s Centre is buzzing with the energy of dozens of toddlers. Bright, freshly painted pictures cover the tops of tables. Children clutch toy dinosaurs and their caregiver’s hand, tugging them out into the playground, then they toddle back inside to find the next thing to play with.

Amongst the excitement, Alison Scholes, Outreach and Engagement Worker (Early Help) for Rotherham Metropolitan Borough, finds moments to sit with families in the reading corner and open their Bookstart Toddler and Bookstart Pre-schooler packs to explore what’s inside together.

“Families don’t always realise the importance of books,” she says. “I might sit with them and demonstrate reading to their child myself and show them what their child got out of it.

“It’s important for us to engage families with the Bookstart packs so we’ve got something visual to give them. We’re not just telling them to go off and read to their children. We’re giving them a resource to say: ‘You can read this with your child, they’ll really like it - and here are the benefits they’ll get out of it.’”

Whether it’s using the books and resources to give a lively story time session, or simply finding a good time to sit with a family and open a pack together, creating a memorable moment around gifting families their packs is a powerful way to build their connection with reading.

Helping families develop a love of reading together

BookTrust’s research found that when families were gifted a BookTrust Toddler or Bookstart Pre-schooler pack, for those who remember being shown or talked through the contents, 90% said they were likely to read and share stories with their child, while 88% said they learned something new about the benefits of reading.

For Alison and her team, books and stories are crucial for encouraging the development of language, communication and social skills in children under five. The Bookstart Toddler and Bookstart Pre-schooler packs are intended to be a valuable resource to support both their work and the families they work with who may not have books at home.

Alison says: “At the end of a session, we try to include some time for a story and singing. When we can, we’ll give the families a pack from BookTrust – which, as you can see today, they really like!”

At midday, families take a seat and cuddle up for an extra special story time. Adam and Charlotte Guillian, authors of One Banana, Two Bananas – one of the picture books gifted inside the Bookstart Pre-schooler packs – have come along today to deliver an animated live reading of their book, with some rhymes and songs thrown in too.

Children jump to their feet, copy the author’s gestures and stand at the front, captivated by the funny, friendly pair telling them a story and dancing – with a quick costume change that turns them into a pair of giant bananas.

Taking the fun home

Afterwards, families are given their own Bookstart Pre-schooler pack – so they get to take home their very own copy of the story they’ve just enjoyed.

Jess, who enjoyed the session with her son, says: “When they were doing it, I was thinking; ‘please have a copy of that book in that pack!’ He does really like that book. I think I can certainly adapt reading to make it somewhat more interactive for him.”

Meanwhile, Ruth, whose son was on his feet throughout the story time, says: “We’ll definitely read it again and do the dance and teach his older brother. It’s a whole other experience, seeing someone read the book live to you.”

Shauni Sanderson, Partnership Manager for BookTrust in the North, says: “It’s fantastic to see the packs being gifted today – it’s particularly exciting for me as this is where I grew up and went to school!

"From our research and from speaking to families and early years practitioners, we know that creating a special gifting moment is what can make reading and storytelling really interactive and more enjoyable for children.”

Our Storyteller Hub is full of ideas and inspiration for bringing the stories and rhymes in the BookTrust Toddler and BookTrust Pre-schooler packs to life – take a look!

Check out some excellent tips for delivering a memorable storytime for Under 5s from Adam and Charlotte Guillain, authors of One Banana, Two Bananas

Share your BookTrust gifting moments with us on social media with #StorySharerWeek

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