Published Wednesday 8 January 2020 at 16:04
Blackburn with Darwen Council has re-signed a deal that will see £250k invested in providing books for the children of Blackburn with Darwen over the next three years.
The Council’s Library Service leads on the Bookstart scheme – which has been running in the borough for 20 years – with its Children’s Services team, NHS partners and the national BookTrust charity.
To deliver the scheme, BookTrust works with the library and staff from children’s centres and health visitors and schools to provide free books, parent/child reading resources as well as general information about the library and literature on other schemes.
Book packs are first handed out to families of babies by health visitors at their 6-10 month development checks.
Treasure packs for older children begin from ages 3-4 and are handed out at children’s centres, nurseries and pre-schools, with age-appropriate books and library literature included.
Library volunteers are crucial to the success of the scheme putting the packs together prior to distribution.
The £250k funding originates from Arts Council England, and the new deal will see the scheme being rolled-out locally until March 2022.
A recipient of one of the book packs said:
Thank you to Bookstart for our pack with the free books. I want my son to love reading as much as I do and we read every day which we both enjoy enormously. Reading is a great way to connect with my son, encourage his talking and have fun together.
Volunteer Susan Whitsey said:
The scheme helps to prepare children for when they start school and we also hope it will encourage more men to read with their children.
Volunteer Taiba Rashid said:
Bookstart is a great way to introduce children and their families to various storybooks and rhymes. Volunteering has meant gaining new skills and building on my existing ones. It’s a great experience.
Dominic Harrison, Director of Public Health and Wellbeing, said:
This is a fantastic, free contribution to the social, health and educational wellbeing of our local children. We aim to reach every child in the borough. You are never too young to be introduced to books, in fact there is strong evidence to suggest babies and toddlers who grow up around books go on to become more confident readers when they start school.
For our libraries too this scheme allows them to reach more people, promote their service and hopefully gain new members who will keep coming back year-on-year.
Diana Gerald, CEO, BookTrust said
I’m delighted that we’re able to work with Blackburn with Darwen Council on such an exciting partnership. They are clearly committed to changing the lives of their children and young people through reading and understand how important reading is to improving life chances.
Research shows that a child who enjoys reading will do better in all subjects, even maths. That’s why we make sure every child gets high quality children’s books and support from birth and why, working with Blackburn with Darwen Council, we will be distributing over £250k worth of books to children and families across the borough over the next three years.