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Bookstart logoBookstart is the national programme that encourages all parents and carers to enjoy books with children from as early an age as possible.

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We want every child in the UK to develop a lifelong love of books. Working through locally-based organisations, Bookstart gives the gift of free books to children at around eight months and three years, along with guidance materials for parents and carers. Bookstart also aims to foster a love of books through a range of fun activities. But Bookstart packs are only half of the gift to children and their families. The other, more lasting gift is the message of enjoying books together.

The books are chosen by Booktrust, an independent charity that encourages people to discover and enjoy reading. Although Bookstart works with different partners, including commercial sponsors, charitable trusts and government departments, the book selection process is independent and has no government or commercial involvement.

Bookstart is universal: Booktrust aims for every baby in the UK to get a Bookstart pack. It is estimated that the programme currently reaches 90 per cent of babies in the UK, and we're working hard to fill the gaps.

Many parents are surprised to learn that babies can benefit from books at such an early age, but research shows that babies and toddlers who love books begin reading sooner and have a better chance at school.

The first five years are the best time for learning to talk and most of a child's language comes from the adults around them. Enjoying books with babies and toddlers is a wonderful way to increase language skills and helps children to understand their world.

Bookstart is a public and private partnership and benefits from sponsorship from over 20 children's publishers, Red House Books and central funding from Sure Start (England and Wales) and the Scottish Executive (Scotland). Bookstart brings together over 4,000 libraries, 12,000 health visitors, over 14 publishers and many government, health and library agencies to make sure that every child in the UK develops a lifelong love of reading.

There are plenty of reasons why sharing books with your children is a good thing, take a look at for a few ideas or to share your thoughts with others.

Further Information

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See also in our website

External websites

  • BBC Learning
    Online learning resources
  • Bookstart
    Encouraging parents and carers to enjoy books with children
  • Federation of Children's Book Groups 
    An established national group. Be part of this dynamic team to bring books and authors to your school.
  • Reading Connects, a DfES-funded National Reading Campaign initiative, seeks to support schools in building their own reading culture.

We are not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more

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This page was last reviewed 25 July 2013 at 11:52.
The page is next due for review 21 January 2015.