Gifting Bookstart packs in libraries

We understand that libraries can differ in their approach to gifting, depending upon their local authority. To provide you with as broad a range of advice as possible, we asked librarians throughout England for tips and guidance based on their experience.

How do libraries gift Bookstart packs?

There is no one set way libraries gift Bookstart packs. Here are examples of how some libraries deliver this crucial part of the Bookstart programme:

  • Bookstart packs are predominantly gifted by health visitors, registrars or nursery settings. Some libraries gift in partnership with these services, while others gift to families who may not have received their packs
  • Holding special gifting sessions within nurseries and pre-school settings, or have the settings visit the library. This allows libraries to introduce the nursery not only to the packs, but what the library has to offer
  • Gifting of packs to families during Rhymetimes to reinforce the importance of sharing books, stories and rhymes
  • Some libraries are now being used to hold baby clinics and the Bookstart Baby packs may be gifted during these sessions
  • Packs can also be gifted in the library via child minders who access the setting

 Gifting the packs image

Tips on gifting from librarians

  • Take advice from your local Bookstart Coordinator and libraries in other local authorities
  • Be aware of what is on offer on the BookTrust website and promote this to parents or carers
  • Be aware of what else BookTrust offers, for example packs for those children with additional needs. You can order these through your local Bookstart Coordinator
  • Open the pack and get the books out, read parts of the books and point at the pictures. This allows the parent or carer to see the child’s reactions and they may be more likely to engage when they get home if they know it works
  • Be positive and make it feel like a special gift for families
  • Let the child take the lead
  • Focus on fun and the idea of book sharing, rather than spending too much time on facts and figures
  • Think about how the contents can benefit the family. Think about key messages around bonding, language development, school readiness, daily routines and how these can be adapted to suit the age of the child you are gifting to
  • Be aspirational for the family: 'By doing this with your child and having fun together, you will be impacting them in positive ways that will last a lifetime'

Coordinator parent and child reading

What to consider when gifting

The needs of the child

Assess the child’s needs when they join the library. If they qualify for a concessionary card, libraries can offer the Bookstart Shine, Bookstart Touch, and Bookstart Star packs as appropriate. Also consider whether there are any dual language needs.

The needs of parents and carers

Always consider the needs of the parent or carer, don’t always assume that they are completely comfortable with books. Take your time explaining the importance of sharing books, stories and rhymes and keep the gifting simple, engaging and fun for both the parents/carers and the child.

Key points and messaging

Remember to consider and refer to the key Bookstart messages. Ensure that the key messaging is accessible and appropriate to the needs of the family and child you are gifting to.

Signposting other services that could benefit the family

  • Liaise with health visitors to hold baby clinics in library spaces and /or get invited to attend a session elsewhere
  • Liaise with local nursery settings to support their delivery of Bookstart packs and invite them into the library
  • Signpost children’s centre services
  • Home Start services, if these are available in your local authority
  • Local Rhymetimes

 How Bookstart can support your library

The benefits of Bookstart Rhymetimes sessions

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