10 October 2008

National Bookstart Day 2008

Today is National Bookstart Day and the theme is Pirates Ahoy!

Bookstart, run by the independent national charity Booktrust, encourages a love of reading for reading’s sake; helping children in the earliest stages of their development to associate books with pleasure.

Posters, bookmarks and stickers have all been illustrated by Debbie Harter and over 500,000 free copies of ‘Pirates A-Hoy’ by Debbie Harter and Oscar Seaworthy will be distributed across the country.

There will be a special launch party taking place at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, featuring pirates, stories and games, and an appearance by the Bookstart Bear Pirate and thousands of families from across the UK will be invited to take part in a range of activities in bookshops, libraries and a range of venues, to highlight the fun of book-sharing. These will include rhyme times, appearances from the Bookstart Bear, pirate-themed adventures as well as song and story-telling sessions. This year, National Bookstart Day supports the National Year of Reading, who shares their aims of encouraging a love of reading in all its forms, from a young age.

Rosemary Clarke, Head of Bookstart said “National Bookstart Day is about reminding every family to make book sharing a regular part of their daily routine. Enjoying stories, songs and rhymes is a wonderful way to encourage children to be confident communicators and eager learners and children who enjoy books every day do far better when they start school. All the family can join in, including dads, and share the fun that books can bring."

This is the seventh annual celebration of the book-gifting programme, which gives three packs of free books to every child in the UK. The website http://www.bookstart.org.uk/ enables parents to enter their postcode to look up National Bookstart Day events taking place in their area.

Bookstart works with libraries, health visitors and early years professionals to give the gift of free books to every child at around eight months, toddlers and pre-school at around three years of age, along with guidance materials for parents and carers. Bookstart seeks to promote the importance of books and the benefits sharing books with babies, such as parental bonding and promoting emotional intelligence, as well as building good communication and listening skills, and helping to lay the foundations of early literacy. Bookstart also aims to foster a love of books through a range of fun activities like Bookstart Rhymetimes and the Bookstart Book Crawl.

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