Monthly Archives: July 2012

Happy Birthday Bookstart

Twenty years is, make no mistake, a very long time. If you do the math, Kim Kardashian could fit at least 100 72-day marriages into that amount of time. Just think how much quality reality television 20 years could produce? It would be like “divorced, beheaded, died…” (ad infinitum) for the twenty-first century. Well, you’ll probably be relieved to know that we don’t do any TV programming here at the Booktrust. But we do share books.

Over the last 20 years, our free bookgifting programme Bookstart has delivered 32 million books to babies and toddlers. Now, I know it’s hard to imagine what 32 million books would look like, or how many bookshelves or libraries it could fill. But just think, if the UK population is estimated at about 62 million, then 32 million books is a lot of books to a lot of babies.

Numerous studies have shown the positive impact reading of to your baby. Research carried out by Professor Barrie Wade and Dr Maggie Moore in the initial phases of Bookstart showed significant differences between families that received Bookstart packs and those that didn’t. The research concluded that not only do families that receive book packs continue to share more books, but that the quality of interaction between parent and child is enhanced. These benefits are far from short term. Wade and Moore found that upon starting school, Bookstart children were significantly ahead of their classmates in all reading and number assessments, and were still ahead in learning by the age of seven.

During National Bookstart Week last month Booktrust revealed new research concluding that nearly two thirds of parents are not reading with their babies at seven months. The research, carried out by ICM on behalf of Booktrust also found that 57% of parents do not own a single baby book until they receive their Bookstart packs, and 75% of parents reported sharing books with their babies as a direct result of receiving their Bookstart packs. These statistics prove the continuing need for programmes like Bookstart. And the wonderful thing about Bookstart is that no-one gets left behind. Every baby and toddler in every postcode in England, Wales and Northern Ireland receives their book packs.

And it isn’t just about giving books. Bookstart also provides resources to support and guide parents in reading with their children. Did you know that one in five London parents has such poor literacy skills they cannot read a bedtime story to their children? True story. Bookstart can help.

That’s why this year, in order to secure funding and support for Bookstart for future generations, we launched the campaign Bookstart 20. Bookstart 20 asks people to pledge their support by simply filling out an online form or postcard and pledging to share 20 books in 2012. If you would like to join the campaign to support Bookstart please makeyour pledge here:  www.booktrust.org.uk/bookstart20

HRH Duchess of Cornwall attended a Bookstart 20 celebratory event at the Kensington Roof Gardens as part of National Bookstart Week last month. The event gathered together many of Bookstart’s other marvellous supporters too, from publishers to celebrities, including Children’s Laureate Julia Donaldson and presenter Lauren Laverne. The sun shone as everyone sang Happy Birthday to Bookstart and indulged in a scrumptious spot of birthday cake in a delightful afternoon.

Copy Credit: Iman Qureshi Photo credit: Tom Pilston

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