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Books for children

15 October 2007

Two big promotions in the UK are doing wonders to promote children's books and children's reading.

The publicly-funded Bookstart initiative, which supplies a pack of books to children at eight months, 18 to 30 months and three years, has proved a good way of getting children's books into households which don't have many of them. Bookstartaims to promote a lifelong love of books and is based on the principle that every child in the UK should enjoy and benefit from books from as early an age as possible. Research shows that children who love books go on to start reading earlier and do better at school, in all areas of the curriculum.

The Bookstart idea has been adopted internationally and it is now affiliated to schemes in Europe, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Australia and Thailand, and has links with other schemes in New Zealand, the USA and Canada. In the UK it is supported by 25 UK children's publishers and aims to reach 2.1 million children every year.

A new development for older children called Booked Up will give a free book to every 11-year-old across the country by the end of the year. What must have made it logistically challenging is that the children were given a choice from a list of twelve titles. There is an interactive website at and the initiative has had a 98% take-up from UK schools.

On a more commercial front the Richard and Judy Show, which has done so much to promote books, is now planning Richard and Judy's Best Kids Books Ever, which will air on 28 October. Their selections have been pretty wide-ranging and tiny Chicken House, which only publishes 22 books a year, was delighted to find that it had three book on the list, as many as Puffin. This list will start with 19 titles and then teams of young people will help Richard and Judy with their selection of the final eight books.

All of this shows a welcome emphasis on children's writing and on getting children interested in books from an early age. Not only will this have a significant effect on their education, but we can all be grateful for the cheering prospect of a new generation of readers on the way.


Booked up