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Bookstart For Your PreSchooler!

Whats Bookstart? 

Bookstart is an organization and website that has recently celebrated 20 years of encouraging reading in our young. The program offers free books to all children at ‘key ages’ before they start school. Worldwide studies have shown that building a healthy love of reading advances a student’s learning abilities in leaps and bounds. The goal of the program is to instill a love of reading to give every child a head start in life.

Bookstart For Your PreSchooler!

Bookstart For Your PreSchooler!

If you have a preschool age child, it’s not too late to get involved in the program and join the club. Bookstart  is a fantastic way to record your child’s reading log, make lists of future book wishes, play games, and also to find

information on book events, recommended books per age, and to collect certificates as your child continues to read higher level books. There are also activities you can do with your child and many other resources to help you grow a strong reader. Membership is free! Contact your local library for more information on if a Bookstart program exists locally, or click here to find out more information about becoming an international affiliate of the Bookstart program.

History

Bookstart began in England in 1992 with the first ever bookgifting program in the world. It was originally piloted in Birmingham but has since grown throughout England, Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland, and now Internationally in Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Australia, Thailand, the Falkland Islands and much of Europe. There are other organizations that are similar to Bookstart available in New Zealand, the USA, and Canada. The Bookstart program offers free affiliation to other projects that gives free books to babies through pre-school age children worldwide.

There is indisputable proof that early reading is an invaluable asset to the early stages of childhood development and Bookstart is reaching out worldwide to spread the word with help, support, guidance and advice to any country who wishes to become affiliated with the revolutionary program.

Funding for the Bookstart program is predominantly achieved through community and Corporate partnerships. However, local libraries often initiate the contact with Bookstart to start a local program. In England the Bookstart program is funded 20% from the government and 80% from corporate programs and book publishers.

Benefits

One might ask if participation in a program such as Bookstart is really necessary, couldn’t you just take your child to the local library on a regular basis to instill a lifelong love of reading and reap the same benefits. Interestingly enough, research has proven that participation in the Bookstart program does have astounding results. Findings show that two-thirds of Bookstart children said reading books was one of their favorite activities, as opposed to one-fifth of non-Bookstart children. Additional research findings indicate that three quarters of Bookstart parents bought books as presents for their children, in contract to only one-tenth of non-Bookstart parents.

Participation in the program also results in a shared quality reading time situation with Bookstart parents and children of 83% versus only 34% of non-Bookstart parents. The findings also shows stark comparisons and similar contrasts in the percentage of parents and children who talked about the story, encouraged the child to join in, and encouraged the child to make predictions. All of which are critical to early child development stages building creative thinking, a fluent vocabulary, and a confident child. Lastly, another study showed that even at age seven Bookstart children were still ahead of their peers in learning, as well as in all reading and number assessments.

One wonderful aspect of the Bookstart program is that all publishers, no matter how big or how small, are welcome to submit books for consideration. The books for the packs are chosen by a panel made up of librarians, book experts, early child development professionals, and health professionals. Bookstart books are also available in packs for deaf children, blind, and partially sighted children.

In advance of the creation of the Bookstart program, there was/is an associated independent reading and writing charity program known as Booktrust. Here’s the kicker – Booktrust has been promoting reading, writing, and books in general for over 80 years! Hugh Walpole gathered a group of notables in his home in 1921, to form the Society of Bookmen whose goal was “the advancement of literature by cooperation of the various branches of the book trade.” In 1924, the Society established the National Book Council. The ‘tagline’ back then was something to effect that books were just as important as the toothbrush is to our children. Talk about very effective advertising slogans!

Even as far back as the 1930’s, the council started programs such as Children’s Book Week, which is still observed every first full week in October. Since that time there have been book fairs, book exhibitions, book museums, book festivities and book programs. Booktrust worked in partnership with libraries to start the Bookstart pilot program in Birmingham.

In England, Wales, and Northern Ireland about 1.5 million children receive Bookstart books each year – around 95% of all children in these countries. What a wonderful program to encourage reading and early development for our young generations. Talk about leading the next generation into the new millennium by giving them the tools to succeed at any age!

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