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Education Worldwide


Starting in England in 1992, Bookstart now seems to be one of the most successful and longest-running reading promotion program spreading all over the world.

What is Bookstart?

Bookstart is a reading program that gifts free book packages to babies, toddlers, infants and children at a predetermined age. Book packages may come in one or more steps, for instance, a book package suited for babies at the age of six weeks and, later on, a second age-based package at the age of four years.

There are many regional as well as nationwide versions all over the world implemented by local organizations and initiatives. There are adaptations for regional needs, such as bilingual versions in South Tyrol (Italy) or book packages for Australian Aboriginal children in remote communities.

How do children get the books?

Typically, the book packages are being delivered by cooperating partners such as community health nurses, pediatricians, libraries or schools.

Who invented Bookstart?

The British Booktrust started a pilot project involving 300 babies in 1992 in collaboration with Professor Barry Wade and Maggie Moore (both University of Birmingham) doing some research on the significance of reading with very young children.

What kind of impact does Bookstart have?

Wade, Moore and other researchers found that Bookstart, compared to peers, leads to

  • families buying and sharing more books
  • improved quality of interaction between parents and children
  • children visiting libraries and borrowing books more often
  • children reading the whole text and talking about the story more often
  • children getting a head start when starting primary school
  • children being better at school even at the age of 7, not only in reading, writing and spelling, but also in science and mathematics

A research paper (PDF) looking at the social return of investment published in 2011 reports that, for every £1 invested, Bookstart creates a value of £25 for society.

Where does the funding come from?

Usually, the funding comes from national government sources, regional or local authorities as well as private or corporate sponsors such as publishing houses.

What are the new developments?

The Bookstart idea is continually evolving and adapting to regional and specific population's needs. There are now book packages for hard of hearing children as well as blind or partially sighted children.

Bookstart is growing rapidly all over the world. Learn more about them.

“Growing up with books” in Belgium

http: / / www.dglive.be / desktopdefault.aspx / tabid-507 / 746_read-2398

Logo-Mit-Buechern-gross-werdenSince 1997, the media education team of the media centre has conducted the action programme “Growing up with books” to highlight the importance of reading for the development of children. Families are thus supported in instilling a joy of reading and books in children and in enfolding their imaginative [ ... ]  

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Lesestart in Germany – Three Milestones for Reading

Lesestart, the nationwide literacy program for children funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and carried out by Stiftung Lesen, continues for three-year-old children and their parents. The Federal Secretary of Education Prof. Dr. Johanna Wanka herself handed out the second Lesestart pack to toddlers and their parents at the Zentral- und Landesbibliothek Berlin on November 15, 2013.

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“Bookbug“ reading promotion for babies and infants in Scotland

http: / / www.scottishbooktrust.com / babies-early-years / about

Bookbug-logoScottish Book Trust run the “Bookbug“ programme, which is intended to give all children in Scotland a lifelong love of books. An early contact with books facilitates early literacy and an enjoyment of books and reading.
“Bookbug“ unites different concepts promoting reading in various age groups. For instance, children are given [ ... ]  

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“Läsglädje för livet“ in Sweden

http: / / www.ljusdal.se / invanare / kultur / bibliotek / lasgladjeforlivet.4.7dc1fbfc1163be5d00780001305.html

“Läsglädje för livet“ (Joy of reading for life) is a collaborative project by “Ljusdal kommunbibliotek“ (main manager), “Ljusdal municipality“, “Studieförbundet Vuxenskolan“ and the health centre in Norra Hälingland: books and book packages targeting specific age groups are distributed to babies, infants and preschoolers. This long-term project has been running since 1993.
Babies: New-born babies or newly adopted children receive a book in their first year: “Barnens första bok“ is distributed [ ... ]  

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Bookstart in Denmark

http: / / www.bibliotekogmedier.dk / english / bookstart-program /

Logo_Bogstart“Bogstart“ (Bookstart) is a project that focuses on delivering book packages to babies and infants in disadvantaged regions, facilitating better access to children’s literature and reading. The state co-ordinating office at the Ministry of Culture, “Styrelsen for Bibliotek og Medier“ in Copenhagen, has organized this [ ... ]  

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Bookstart in South Tyrole

http: / / www.provinz.bz.it / bookstart

Logo_Bookstart_South_TyroleSince 2007, the Bookstart project has been carried out in the German and Italian language in South Tyrole subject to a cooperation between the departments for German and Italian culture in the autonomous region of Bozen with many libraries, hospitals, doctors and midwives. At their baby’s birth, parents receive information [ ... ]  

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“Nati per Leggere“ - Born to read

http: / / www.natiperleggere.it /

Logo-Freed-am-LeesenThe national programme “Nati per Leggere“ (Born to Read) aims to inspire an early interest in books and reading. The project is supported by the association of paediatricians (ACP), the Italian Library Association (AIB) and the child health centre (Centro per la Salute del Bambino, CSB). Thus, a national network of libraries, [ ... ]  

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“Leer en Familia“ Reading in the Family in Colombia

http: / / www.fundalectura.org / sccs / seccion.php?id_contenido=2

Inspired by the “Bookstart“ experience in the United Kingdom, Fundalectura adapted the concept in 2003 and applied it to Colombia. Supported by cultural and educational institutions, children are provided with books as soon as they are born, regardless of their parents’ social status wherever they live, thus independent from aspects that might otherwise have a negative effect on their reading socialisation. “Reading in the family“ targets children from when they are born till the age of six years and [ ... ]  

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„Bookstart“ in South Korea

http: / / www.bookstart.org / bt_H_9_1.asp

Bookstart-Korea has been gifting book packs to babies since April 2003 in 99 localities (46%) across the country. Bookstart package reaches 120,000 babies each year, and the number is increasing every year. The programme currently reaches around 120,000 babies per year via deliveries in public health centres and public libraries. An additional `Bookstart Plus` pack aimed at 3-4-year-olds was launched in 2007 and `Bookstart Treasure Chest` for five and six year olds in 2008. The programme receives funding [ ... ]  

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„Books for Babies“ in New Zealand

http: / / christchurchcitylibraries.com / Learning / BooksForBabies /

©Christchurch-City-Libraries”Books for Babies“ has been carried out by the Christchurch City Libraries since 1990. Each year, ca. 5,000 “Books for Babies“-packages are distributed to all parents of newborns by hospitals, midwives and the homebirth association. These packs contain the board book “Baby’s World“ featuring large, black and white figures especially [ ... ]  

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Bookstart in Japan

http: / / www.bookstart.net /

Booksartpack_in_JapanBookstart aims to create opportunities for parents and babies to spend happy times together by allowing them to experience the joy of sharing books and providing them a free pack of books. The opportunities are made by the partnership of people and relevant local organizations, such as library services, health centres, family support centres and local [ ... ]  

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“Boekbaby’s” - Book Babies in Belgium

http: / / www.boekbabys.be /

Book_Babies_in_BelgiumInspired by the British campaign Bookstart, “Stichting Lezen Flanders” is encouraging young parents to share an interest in books with their young children. Until 2007 a pilot project ran in ten local authorities and libraries. Young families were given a package of books, library information, and book vouchers on three occasions during the first three years of their [ ... ]  

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Swiss Bookstart project

http: / / www.buchstart.ch

Buchstart-SchweizThe Swiss project “Bookstart“ (Buchstart) views early language development as part of health development. Switzerland’s Bookstart aims to support all children born in Switzerland in their first year, and making the workld of books and knowledge accessible to them. Parents are made aware of how they can foster their child’s language and perception skills. Each child [ ... ]  

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Bookstart (UK)

http: / / www.bookstart.org.uk

Bookstart provides each baby in the United Kingdom with a set of books, and supports health and education professionals as well as parents with guidance regarding early learning and reading. Furthermore, it targets librarians and booksellers as regards advice and partnership solutions for selecting the book packs. 

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More Information

Facts and figures

Bookstart projects worldwide over time
Click on image to enlarge:

Bookstart projects worldwide over time

Source: Bookstart Country Panel (Stiftung Lesen) presented at "Prepare for Life" conference

Resources in the web

Bookstart Country Panel (PDF)

Bookstart Research