Announcing Booktrust Storytime

Tuesday, 3 August, 2021

New public library experience to support disadvantaged families start their reading journey to be piloted by BookTrust

ASCEL have joined with leading library partners to support the development of BookTrust Storytime, a new pilot national library experience aimed at supporting disadvantaged families with children in their early years, engage with their local public library and develop an ongoing reading habit.

In the wake of the COVID pandemic, it is also hoped that the BookTrust Storytime pilot will align with libraries’ aspirations to reconnect with their local communities after a year of closures and kick-start visits as part of the ongoing recovery. As well as supporting disadvantaged children and families, the pilot has also been designed to break down any limiting preconceptions – such as libraries being solely a place for reading books quietly – as well as showcasing the broader opportunities available with clear signage and a welcoming, friendly environment. 


BookTrust Storytime has been developed by the children’s reading charity in collaboration with libraries, local authorities and families and will launch in Autumn 2021. Funded by Arts Council England, the pilot has also benefited from the expertise and knowledge of leading library sector partners including The Association of Senior Children's and Education Librarians (ASCEL), Libraries Connected, The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) and Youth Libraries Group (YLG), to ensure the design and content reflects their experiences and meets the needs of librarians and library services.  


Insight from the co-design process showed that families are more likely to return to the library if they have a positive, fun first experience and can see the enjoyment and benefit experienced by their child. The BookTrust Storytime experience will incorporate the existing BookTrust Storytime Prize, which celebrates the best early years children’s books. This year’s shortlist will be integrated into the experience and used to encourage families to make repeat visits to the library to enjoy the different books. A raft of resources for librarians will be tested, alongside activities for families that bring the magic of reading to life,and inspire families to make sharing stories and visiting their local library a regular and long-lasting part of family life.


The pilot itself will adopt a three-tiered approach, with different levels of library engagement, and resources and activities being tested across the different libraries taking part. During the pilot, BookTrust aims to learn more about disadvantaged family engagement in library services and will use this to contribute to the evidence base around the development of a reading habit.


Chris Myhill, Chair of ASCEL  “ASCEL are delighted to share the professional expertise of our national network of senior librarians with Booktrust, to support the development of this new strategy. The Covid 19 pandemic has highlighted the disadvantage faced by some families and we welcome initiatives which are designed to break down barriers to engagement and help libraries reach out to those most in need. The power of reading is proven to benefit children throughout their lives and ASCEL is committed to bringing the joy of reading to all children, from pre-birth to early adulthood through our public libraries and school library services.


Annabel Gittins, Vice Chair, ASCEL and Library Development Manager, Shropshire ‘With books and reading at their heart, libraries offer connections and support for every age and every stage through a myriad of projects that allow families to be creative, to feel included, and above all experience kindness. BookTrust Storytime resources will enable libraries to play a key role in local COVID-19 recovery not only by supporting local authority priorities around the development of early speech, language and communication skills in pre-school children, but also enticing more families to recognise libraries as their space to explore, with opportunities available for all age groups.’


Diana Gerald, CEO of BookTrust  ‘At BookTrust we believe all children should reap the life changing benefits of reading, and our bold new strategy is focused on finding innovative ways to ensure children from disadvantaged families are not left behind. Working with the local authorities and library services that share these ambitions, our BookTrust Storytime experience will remind families about the treasure trove of support available from their local library and kickstart visits as we emerge from the pandemic. We’re grateful for the support of our library sector partners whose insight and expertise has enabled us to strengthen the design of the pilot and develop a new model of support that will enable us to all learn about how families can be best supported to engage with their local public library and make sharing stories a regular part of family life.’

Full Press release

Booktrust StoryTime