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Bookstart: The Importance of Sharing Books With Your Baby

Updated on June 28, 2009

Teachers can do what they can. Writers and illustrators and publishers can do their best. But it is parents more than anyone who can instill a love of books in their children. Nothing is more important than that early experience of parent and child loving and wondering at the same book. It is a shared joy, the parent's closeness, the familiar voice inviting the child to dream along. No invitation to reading can be more persuasive. Parent and child live in the story together.  Miss out on this early opportunity and it's often more of a struggle for a child to develop a love of reading.

The joy or the struggle continues at school. Here only two things matter. First, the teacher must love books, must be excited by them, moved by them. Far too often books are used as mere educational tools, an attitude that can stifle early enthusiasm. Second, the teacher must choose wisely. And the choice is huge. This choosing is crucial. Get it wrong, bore a child with a badly written uninspiring read, propose a poor book that disappoints, and the damage can be serious, maybe even permanent.

Bootstart was initiated in 1992 by independent education charity, Booktrust, which exists to encourage people of all cultures and ages to discover and enjoy books. Bookstart aims to promote a lifelong love of books by encouraging book sharing with every young children. Bookstart works with librarians and health and education authorities to deliver a free Bookstart pack of books and information on book sharing and literacy to the families of every baby born in the country.

Bookstart has proven that babies need books. Impressive research evidence has found significant differences between Bookstart babies and babies who have not been fortunate enough to share books with a parent or carer. Bookstart children are found to be more ready for starting school and their 'head start in literacy' tends to be maintained over time.


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