Bookstart is a national scheme that aims to inspire a love of books in every child, by providing two separate gifts of free books, along with support to parents and carers. You can find out more about the national Bookstart scheme please click here.
How children receive their free books
On the island, the first gift - the Bookstart Baby Pack - will be given by your Health Visitor when your child is around nine months old. If you do not have a Health Visitor, or if your child has not received a pack at the expected time, please ask in your local library, and they will arrange to get a pack to you.
The second pack - the Bookstart Treasure Pack - is gifted to children in their final year at pre-school, and is given out by pre-schools and nurseries. The gifting of the packs could take place at any point during the year, so if your child is due to start school in September and has not yet received a pack, it is likely that they will get one soon. If your child does not attend a local pre-school or nursery, please ask in your local library, and they will arrange to get a pack to you.
Taking it further
Bookstart is not just about free books; it's about inspiring a lifelong love of books and reading in children. It's never too soon to start sharing books with babies and toddlers. Research has shown that children who have books shared with them from early age generally go on to do better at school. Sharing books is also a lovely bonding experience between you and your child - a few minutes of one-to-one quality time in a busy day.
There is no age limit on joining the library, so even tiny babies can get a library card of their own. All libraries have sturdy board books for babies, and we don't charge if the books get chewed or damaged. There are no fines on late books for children, so don't worry if life gets a bit hectic and your books are a few days late.
Many libraries hold weekly Rhyme Times - fun sessions of songs and rhymes for babies and toddlers. Your child can also join the Bookstart Bear Club, and start collecting stamps whenever they come to the library. Every six stamps, they get a colourful certificate, with ten different ones to collect.