Site fo Interest: Book Start

This weeks site of interest is Book Start ( This is a fantastic programme that encourages children to read. The site also contains some great resources for parents.

About us
Bookstart is a national programme that encourages all parents and carers to enjoy books with their children from as early an age as possible.  
Bookstart aims to provide a free pack of books to every baby in the UK, to inspire, stimulate and create a love of reading that will give children a flying start in life. But most of all we want to show that books are fun.

Bookstart is administered by the national independent charity Booktrust. It is a public and private partnership and is sponsored by over 25 children's publishers as well as Red House Books. Central funding is provided through the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and, the Department of Education in Northern Ireland and the Department for Children, Schools and Families in England.
Bookstart began in 1992 in Birmingham with a pilot project involving 300 babies. Booktrust commissioned Prof. Barrie Wade and Dr Maggie Moore to undertake research into the effects of early book-sharing on child development. Wade and Moore found that Bookstart children began school with significant advantages and with higher attainment in all aspects of the pre-school, nine baseline assessments.

Research findings
Wade & Moore undertook an observational study, where parents shared a book with their children, of two to three years, and compared Bookstart families with a non-Bookstart sample.
  • 83% of Bookstart parents read the whole text compared with 34% of non-Bookstart parents
  • 64% talked about the story, compared with only 24%
  • 43% encouraged the child to join in, compared with 17%
  • 68% encouraged the child to make predictions, compared with 38%
  • 68% of Bookstart children looked at books as one of their favourite activities 21% for children who had not received Bookstart
  • 75% of Bookstart parents said they usually bought books as presents for their children compared with 10% for parents who had not received Bookstart
  • 43% of Bookstart parents took their children to the library at least once a month compared with 17% for parents who had not received Bookstart.
Click here for more information on research


How are packs delivered?

Bookstart Baby packs are usually delivered to families by health professionals at health contacts before the baby's first birthday. Bookstart+ packs are also usually delivered by health professionals at a health contact when the baby is between 18-30 months old. My Bookstart Treasure Chest is gifted to 3- to 4-year-olds at early years settings such as nurseries and playgroups. Parents and carers can also obtain all three packs from their local library.

Where does funding come from?

Central funding is provided through the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and, the Department of Education in Northern Ireland and the Department for Children, Schools and Families in England. We have sponsorship support from a range of children's book publishers and booksellers and Bookstart is delivered via libraries, health professionals and early years professionals who give the packs to the parents and carers.

What are the benefits accrued from Booktrust being an independent charity?

As a charity Booktrust does not make a profit so materials are sourced at very competitive prices and this keeps our costs very low. For instance, central funding from the taxpayer is only 25% of the retail cost of delivering Bookstart. This is thanks to our sponsors and to our charitable status.

Are books sourced locally?

Booktrust does not publish books. Publishers in the UK are invited to submit books for consideration of inclusion in the packs. These books are produced in a number of countries. Bookstart packs contain a number of printed items eg guidance books and these components are produced in the UK.

How are the books chosen?

There is a Bookstart book panel made up of book experts librarians, health professionals and early years professionals.

How many publishers are involved and how are they chosen?

All publishers, however small, are invited to submit books for consideration.

Are books available in other languages?

Bookstart provides dual language books and guidance materials that are available in 28 languages.

Does Bookstart offer anything in between the three packs?

The three Bookstart packs all contain invitations to join the library and many libraries offer Bookstart Rhymetimes and the Bookstart Book Crawl. Babies just one day old can join a library! So if parents join their children to the library, there are plenty of opportunities and activities available to parents and children between the packs.

I have received the Bookstart pack for my baby, but the book token was missing. Please advise how I can obtain one.

The £1 Bookstart book token is available in the Bookstart+ pack for children aged 18-30 months and the My Bookstart Treasure Chest for children in their pre-school year. Please ask at your local library for further information or click here to learn more about the book token scheme

Are these book tokens accepted in all bookshops?

Waterstones, Borders, W H Smith and Blackwells all accept the tokens, as do hundreds of independent shops.

I am a childminder and would like to obtain the packs for my own use at home. Is this possible?

Yes, the Bookstart packs are available to purchase as resources in your own home. The cost of each pack is: £8 for Pack A and Booktouch; £10 for Bookstart+; and £15 for Treasure Chest. All prices include VAT and postage and packing. Click here to download the Bookstart purchase order form
Remember that if you're actually seeking packs for children in your care, please ask the local library or health visitors for them. As these packs are for the child, there is no charge.

What is the difference between Bookstart and Bookstart in Scotland?

Bookstart in Scotland is funded by the Scottish Government and sponsored by 25 publishers to gift free packs of books to children aged birth to three. Bookstart in Scotland is administered by Scottish Book Trust, working in partnership with the independent charity Booktrust which began Bookstart in 1992 and which manages the programme in England, Northern Ireland and Wales.

Visit the website for more information about this great project. 


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