Tag Archives: BookStart

Never too young

You’re never too young to enjoy a good story, and at your local library children are welcome to join from birth. It’s absolutely free and for children there aren’t any fines for returning books late.

Did you know that all families with babies aged 0-12 months are eligible for a free Bookstart baby pack?  Each pack contains two books, a rhyme sheet and a booklet of tips and ideas for sharing stories with your child. Pop into your local library to pick yours up today.

If you’re interested in getting involved in your local reading community, check out the fun under-fives activities on offer at your local library.

And remember, we understand that children can be noisy (and sometimes messy!) so don’t worry too much about being quiet; we love to see young children enjoying our libraries and welcome their enthusiasm!

By taking out books and reading with your child every day you can help their physical, mental and emotional development as well as language and listening skills. Plus, you get to enjoy some fantastic stories!

“A love of reading is more important in academic achievement than a child’s social or economic background.” –Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, ‘Reading for change’ 2001

Happy reading!

Harriet Skinner

Libraries Children’s Officer


Exploring other worlds with our children, it’s National Bookstart Week 2017

This week (Monday 5 to Sunday 11 June 2017), is National Bookstart Week and this year is an extra special celebration as Bookstart is 25 years old!

BookTrust, the organisation that administers the Bookstart programme, encourages children and families to read more. Over these 25 years, they have gifted more than 34 million books to children.

Bookstart currently gives free books and resources to every child in England and Wales, at two key ages before school, to help inspire a love of books and encourage shared reading.

This year’s special National Bookstart Week book is Ellie Sandall’s Everybunny Dance and many libraries will be reading this story and special rhymes to do with the great outdoors.  We have many copies of this book to give away.

Our libraries are running special events to celebrate for babies, toddlers, pre-schoolers and their families around this year’s theme, ‘Let’s Explore Outdoors!’

Special under 5s session at Pimlico Library on Tuesday 6 June 2017, 10.30am to 11.30am

They’ll be stories, rhymes and a bunny craft activity.

Special under 5s session at Marylebone Library on Tuesday 6 June, 10.30am to 11am and Friday 9 June, 3.45pm to 4.30pm

We’ll be singing songs and rhymes and giving out copies of ‘Everybunny Dance!’ by Ellie Sandall on Tuesday. And on Friday we’ll have super storytelling and a beautiful bunny ears craft.

Don’t worry if you can’t make these sessions, we also run regular events for the under 5s every week across the borough.

It’s never too young to share a story or a rhyme with your young ones so come along have some fun and start or continue your child’s journey to a life of reading for pleasure. Sharing stories is of huge benefit to children, particularly when done from an early age.

Children who regularly have books shared with them benefit in lots of ways:

  • better emotional health
  • children develop longer attention spans and wider vocabularies
  • it builds their language skills
  • and in the long term helps them to be better readers and learners.

All this by sharing a book together for a few minutes each day. Just 10 minutes spent sharing a story with a child each day can have a lasting impact.

You can hear Lauren Laverne read Everybunny Dance on the Bookstart website.

Nick Fuller
Tri-borough Libraries Children’s Services Manager

Free books for your baby!

Bookstart logoIf you have a baby under the age of one year old, did you know that you can receive a free book bag from Bookstart?

It’s never too early to introduce your child to books – it’s about more than learning to read, the sound of your voice is the best thing.

Sharing books with young children can help very new babies with focusing; reaching and grabbing the flaps and pages in board books helps develop motor skills; and stories are great to use at bed time or at any time of the day, for a quiet few moments together. Books are a good way to share one-to-one time between a child and their parent. It only takes a few minutes a day and it’s free.

Above all, it’s about having fun!

Bookstart Baby PackBookstart Treasure Pack

The pack content varies, but will include two board books,rhyme sheet and a booklet of tips and ideas for sharing books. You should receive a Bookstart pack from your health visitor sometime in your baby’s first year. If you haven’t received one by the time your child is one, you can ask for a pack at your local library. While you are there, why not see what the library has to offer babies and toddlers – rhyme times, events and of course lots more books for little ones!

For more information on the scheme, visit www.bookstart.org.uk


Get your pre-schooler into the swing of reading this summer!

Rumble in the Jungle by Giles AndreaeWestminster Libraries will be celebrating National Bookstart Week 2015 from 8-14 June. UK charity Book Trust is calling for all parents and carers to take their cheeky chimps to their local library for some jungle-themed reading adventures!

This year’s theme, Jungle Adventures, is based on Giles Andreae’s beloved picture book Rumble in the Jungle, booklets of which will be given away to families.

National Bookstart Week is an annual celebration of Book Trust’s flagship reading programme, Bookstart. It aims to reinforce to families the importance of getting in to the habit of reading every day – even if it’s just for ten minutes.

Look out for specially themed events which include stories, rhymes and lots of fun activities to inspire families to read together – all our events are listed on our Forthcoming Events page.

Diana Gerald, Chief Executive of Book Trust said:

‘As a mum, I treasure those wonderful shared moments reading with my child. You are doing something special, and for a few minutes the outside world stops while you read about elephants or pirates.

‘Research has shown that reading to young children every day makes a huge difference in terms of their future confidence, communication skills, well-being and educational attainment. We believe very strongly that a book is not just a book; it’s a doorway. And we believe that doorway should be open to everyone.’

Families can find their nearest National Bookstart Week event at www.bookstart.org.uk/events/search/

If families are unable to make it along to their local event they can join in the fun at home, with plenty of jungle-themed arts and crafts, games and baking recipes – all on the Bookstart website.


Reading superheroes

It was National Bookstart Week 9 – 15 June and children visiting Westminster libraries had lots of fun!

National Bookstart Week 2014

The message from Bookstart is ‘read with your child every day’. Just sharing a book for a few minutes each day can make a big difference to children’s language skills, and is also a great way to have fun with your child. Visit your local library for brilliant books to borrow and share together.

CSO Little visits Pimlico Library for National Bookstart Week, June 2014The theme of this years’ National Bookstart Week was ‘superheroes’. Children at Pimlico Library enjoyed listening to a story of Super Duck by Jez Alborough and got to take a copy home with them. After singing songs and rhymes, there were ‘quacktivities’ to take part in, including making a superhero mask.

Then they were visited by a real life hero, Police Community Support Officer Little (here he is with his copy of Super Duck!)

St John’s Wood Library also had a Super Week promoting Bookstart. There are three Under 5s Rhyme Time sessions at St John’s Wood every week and after each session last week staff spoke to parents and carers about incorporating reading into a daily routine, particularly at bedtime. The aim this year was encouraging reading to children no matter what their age: the sooner the better – one of the library volunteers used to read chapter books to his twins while they were still in the womb! Although some may consider this extreme, research shows how reading to children is more than speaking words on a page but is crucial to their development and makes it much easier for them to learn and succeed at school. Reading one-to-one also helps strengthen the bonds between the child and the parent. Of course our other constant aim as a library service is to encourage a love of reading, books and libraries which will continue into later life.

National Bookstart Week in Westminster Libraries National Bookstart Week in Westminster Libraries National Bookstart Week in Westminster Libraries

Bookstart is a national charity that gifts free packs of books to pre-school children. For more information on the scheme visit www.bookstart.org.uk

[Rachel and Natalie]

National Bookstart Week

It’s National Bookstart Week and this year’s theme is fairy tales!

National Bookstart Week 2013The Bookstart message of ‘it’s never too early to share a book’ is a fantastic way to help develop language and communication skills, build a loving relationship with your child and of course have fun.

There are events going on all around the country, and Westminster Libraries are joining in too – if you haven’t been before, why not come along to one of our fantastic Sessions for Under Fives.

Join in the rhymes, songs and stories with your child and help us celebrate!


Happy Birthday Bookstart!

Winnie the Pooh, by A A Milne‘When I Was Very Young, my Dad shared a world with me – the world of Winnie the Pooh. He read the stories to me, and the phrases (“A useful pot for putting things in”, “Time for a little something”, “A galoptious full up pot too”) became part of my vocabulary, as they had become part of his when he was small. These books gave me great pleasure, an enjoyment of quiet humour and an ear for the different ways in which people (and toys, of course) talk. I learnt about concrete poetry, imaginary places and how to play Pooh Sticks.’

This year, 2012, is the 20th anniversary of Bookstart – the world-renowned reading programme which gifts free books (30 million so far) to babies, toddlers and 3-year-olds.

Bookstart 20You can be a part of the Bookstart 20th year celebrations by making a simple pledge: to share 20 books in 2012. The target is 10,000 pledges by the end of the year and they are tantalisingly close – at the time of writing, there were 9320 pledges. With your help, they can smash that barrier.

How can you share 20 books? Here are some ideas:

Pledge now!

We’ve included a couple of stories from library staff about how someone sharing books with them made a difference – leave a comment and tell us your stories, we’d love to hear them.

Ballet in Moscow Today, by Helene Bellew‘When I was around 10 years old, I became seriously interested in ballet. My dad’s friends would sometimes brings presents for me, and these were often ballet books, beautifully illustrated with photographs of dancers and the stories of all the major classical ballets. I would spend hours poring over the pages, and I still remember the atmosphere of these books and how they’d carry me into another, magical world. I remember the smell of the paper and the exotic sound of the French terms for ballet steps. Arabesque! Pirouette! And the glamorous-sounding names of the Russian dancers… I started ballet classes and then saw ‘Swan Lake’ with Margot Fonteyn as Odette/Odile. Years later I attended dance school and performed professionally for several  years.’

Sharing books can change things later in life too.

The Golden Treasury of Poetry‘My teenage years were spent studying the sciences; I hadn’t time for poetry, or novels, or anything much to do with fiction. Then my younger sister shared The Golden Treasury of Poetry with me. The line illustrations by artist Joan Walsh Anglund fascinated me and I started to draw and copy them. The words and images drew me in further, many of them about magical faraway lands or strange situations. I became hooked on rhyming verse, especially nonsense poetry. I’ve since enjoyed the applied arts and sciences in equal measure.’