BookTrust – Learning about What they Do.

Book Trust Logo

We recently visited the BookTrust offices to learn about them, and what they do.

So who are the BookTrust? Chances are you’ll have come across them at some point. For me, my first time was getting H’s first bag from our Health Visitor, which had an Elmer book in it. It was read constantly – we’d seen Elmer but didn’t have any of the books, and this led to more purchases. The idea of getting a bag with free books and activities was amazing to me. Up until then, the only thing I’d come across which was free were the bags you get when you’re about to give birth.

Finding out that you could get more free books as my child grew up was INCREDIBLE. We knew she loved reading and being read to, and discovering new authors or ones we hadn’t yet read opened up a world of adventures, stories, great things. Needless to say, when anyone who had a child of a similar age said they had a new BookTrust bag, we all made a point of getting them. Once H was at school she got her Booktime pack in reception.

Book Trust BookBuzz

And that, I thought, was that. But no – you see, BookTrust have loads of different schemes, and on the 1st April we headed to their offices and met with them to learn about what they do.

The Letterbox Club is a fantastic service for children aged 5-13 that provides books to children who are in care. Often it can be the first thing they receive which is theirs. The packs are tailored and have books, maths games, stationery and more.

They’re designed to encourage reading and learning at home. There are five levels – Letterbox Orange (5-7 year olds), Letterbox Yellow (7-9 year olds), Letterbox Blue (7-9 year olds), Letterbox Red (9-11 year olds) and Letterbox Green (11-13 year olds).

The books are carefully selected, each child gets a new book every six months. This will build up to their own collection of things that is truly theirs to use and keep. I think it’s a fantastic scheme.

For more information head here.

Book Trust Letterbox example

At BookTrust they believe in a society where nobody misses out on the life-changing benefits that reading can bring. They want to get children and families reading. I know we’re extremely lucky with H and how much she loves and enjoys it.

The Letterbox Club isn’t the only service for older children. BookTrust also have a service for schools to sign up, as well as a new service launching later this year, Story Hunters – and while it says which children these packages are targeted towards, it’s open to everyone.

Book Trust Story Hunters Book Trust Story Hunters

There’s a lot on the BookTrust website too. You can search for books based on ability and age; something which has always confused me with H as she’s such an advanced reader; what exactly would make a book suitable for an 8 year old, when she’s only 4? I’m going to be using this section a lot!

I love the Bookbuzz scheme too – a fantastic choice of books, and for students in years 7 & 8 at school!

At the networking event on April 1st, a lot of bloggers were also authors – and it was great to chat to them. We met the author Sita Brahmachari and received a copy of two of her books. See, this is the other fantastic thing about the BookTrust; they’re working with authors all the time, reviewing books and encouraging children to read. It’s wonderful – and, in case you didn’t realise, they’re a charity.

I knew this, but didn’t realise we could raise money for them – so we’re now thinking of a way to do something. Maybe have H see how many Harry Potter books she can read without sleeping or something! You can also buy Christmas Cards at Waterstones which help raise money, something we’ll be doing this year.

I came away from our meeting knowing that working with the BookTrust was a really positive thing. They’re really making a difference for many children. I have so much more I could write about, but I’ll save that for a follow-up post – and instead direct you over here, where you’ll find so many things.

We are delighted to be BookTrust bloggers!

National Bookstart Week 2013

Bookstart LogoNational Bookstart Week 2013 is happening from the 24th-30th June, and the theme is Fairy Tales.

There are going to be thousands of free events for babies and toddlers up and down the country, as well as activities and resources at the Bookstart website. There will be copies of ‘The Ugly Duckling’ beautifully illustrated by Masumi Furukawa given away at all events courtesy of the publishers Child’s Play. An audio recording of the story, read by Coronation Street star Julie Hesmondhalgh will also be available on the website.

The Bookstart programme (which offers packs to babies and pre-schoolers) only has secure funding until 2015 – and it has been one of our favourite things to get for H. Research has shown that children who received the Bookstart packs are more likely to choose reading as one of their favourite activities, and parents were more likely to share stories more fully, reading the whole text and discussing the story afterwards. Children also performed better at school compared to those who had not had Bookstart packs.

To help celebrate we’re going to attempt to catch up with as many books as we can and write (or maybe even video) reviews of them – we love reading in our house – check the link above to see if there’s any events near you!