More pupils to be bitten by Bookbug

15th May 2015 at 01:00
Free book initiative extended to P2-3s after pound;1.6m cash injection

Hundreds of thousands of books will be handed out to primary school pupils after pound;1.6 million was ploughed into a programme to improve children's language skills.

The Bookbug scheme, run by the Scottish Book Trust, currently gives free books to every Scottish child from birth until they reach P1, and is being extended to include P2 and P3 children from next year.

The move is part of the Scottish government's Read, Write, Count campaign. Children receive their first pack of three books at eight weeks old and additional packs when they turn 1, 3 and 5. The expansion to include P2-3 children is likely to lead to another 360,000 books being given away.

The new packs are yet to be finalised, but according to Marc Lambert, director of the trust, it is likely that they will follow the established pattern and contain three free books alongside resources on writing and counting. CPD will be made available for teachers so that schools can get the most out of the new materials, he said.

"The Scottish Book Trust is looking forward to delivering some of the key elements of the Scottish government's Read, Write, Count initiative," Mr Lambert added. "The expansion of our Bookbug programme with new P2 and P3 bags, and an enhanced P1 bag that includes more writing and numeracy resources, will enable us to deepen our work with schools and encourage a greater level of parental engagement.

"This universal offer will also be complemented by a new outreach programme aimed at the most vulnerable families, developed in consultation with local authorities in Scotland."

The trust is looking to extend its outreach work. Currently, the scheme involves training up social workers, health visitors and nursery staff to deliver Bookbug song and rhyme sessions - usually accessed through public libraries - in the homes of Scotland's most vulnerable families.

By this summer, outreach training will have been delivered to early years professionals in every authority.

An evaluation of the scheme, which started in 2012, was published last month. It surveyed 225 early years professionals who had taken part and found that 93 per cent had observed positive impacts and changes to families' behaviour as a result.

Family bonding behind bars

One father in Perth prison was introduced to Bookbug songs and rhymes by staff from the children's charity Barnardo's during weekly attachment sessions with his 18-month-old son. He said the project had opened his eyes to new ways of playing with his child - previously he had considered Halloween and Christmas as times to play, but he was "starting to understand that it needs to be a constant thing".

The child's mother has also engaged with Bookbug. "Without it, he wouldn't be so advanced," she said. "I believe he'll be quite brainy when he goes to school."

The expansion of the Bookbug scheme was welcomed by literacy expert Professor Sue Ellis, co-director of the University of Strathclyde's Centre for Education and Social Policy. "Anything that puts books into the hands of children is great news," she said. "It is important that children get a chance to network around books - to talk about them, to choose and to swap books - so any initiative that encourages this is a good thing."

For more on efforts to boost literacy, see the News focus on pages 16-18

Record reading

Families from across Fife will attempt to read their way into the history books next week when they try to break the world record for the largest number of parents reading to their children simultaneously.

At least 428 parents or guardians will need to take part to break the record. The attempt will take place on Tuesday in the Michael Woods Sports and Leisure Centre in Glenrothes. All the families will read the same story - Chae Strathie's Jumblebum - at the same time for three minutes.

The event is part of Bookbug Week, which runs from 18-24 May. bit.lyBookbugWeek2015

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