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Booktime is a flagship UK community programme developed by education and publishing company Pearson in association with independent charity Booktrust in January 2006. Since then, Booktime has given nearly a million free Booktime book packs to children aged 4 to 5 years, with the support of local authorities, libraries and schools.

This year’s gift book (2007-08) is the well known children’s illustrated book, Funnybones, by Janet and Allen Ahlberg, published by Puffin. Book packs also contain a guidance booklet for parents and carers with tips on shared reading.

Booktime is currently supported by the Department for Children, Schools and Families, and Pearson. This year, every school and library in England received a free resource pack including activity sheets and session ideas to facilitate linked activities and enhance the children’s enjoyment of the gift book.



Booktime promotes reading for pleasure and aims to encourage parents and carers to read aloud with their children.

Evidence for Successes

In 2007-08, over 730,000 children starting school across the UK will have received a free book pack. This includes pupils in State, Voluntary, Independent, Private and Special Needs schools, as well as over 5,000 children not in mainstream education.

Booktime has been greatly enhanced by the partnership with local authorities, library services and schools.

Local Authorities

In Kent, units from two different Kent County Council directorates (Libraries & Archives and Education) decided to work together on the delivery of the Booktime project to try to enhance the value of this initiative.

We looked at different ways of adding to the experience by holding gifting sessions in libraries, encouraging parents and colleagues from Adult Education to attend sessions and offering incentives for subsequent visits to the library.

Libraries also provided a promotional library pack aimed at parents. This outlined library services to children, listed opening hours for the relevant area of Kent, included a RaW leaflet and offered a small gift for any child who joined the library or borrowed a book as a result of Booktime.

Early indications are that this partnership has already made a difference to groups of children and their parents.


Thurrock Libraries also used Booktime as an opportunity to strengthen links with local schools and parents and carers.

We decided that we wanted to offer a distinct promotion to encourage school take-up and also library membership. A library ‘Booktime’ leaflet was produced, copies of which were given to schools to send home with the packs. All 38 infant and primary schools were invited by letter, to book a Booktime session for their reception classes either within the school or at their local library.

Overall the take-up and support from local schools was exceptional. Teachers and children were enthusiastic and reacted very positively to the promotion. 11 schools invited parents to attend and although often parents were unavailable due to work commitments, in total 185 parents and grandparents were present and joined in the activities.

Booktime in Schools

Booktime book packs and resource packs have been very well received by reception teachers who have been happy to support the programme:

I just wanted to write and thank you, on behalf of all the children in my class (and their families), for your marvellous gesture of providing free book packs for Reception pupils. My class were absolutely thrilled with their gifts, particularly as the ‘Funnybones’ series is a firm favourite of ours. Children today have so many distractions and demands made on their time. Thank you for encouraging the simple, yet precious, enjoyment of books.

Foundation Stage Leader, Broughton Primary School, Northampton

Booktime at Home

Booktime encourages families to make time for books and reading. The guidance booklet for parents and carers with tips on shared reading is available in 15 community languages and can be downloaded from Booktime

Feedback from parents and carers has been overwhelmingly positive:

It is a great scheme and caused great excitement in her class today as they all came bounding out with their little blue bags. Thank you once again and I look forward to next year when my twins will be in Reception. Keep up the good work.



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