How Bookstart works

Bookstart is the world’s first national bookgifting programme – established in 1992 and run by the reading charity, Book Trust

Book Trust and Bookstart logosThe programme is funded by the Department for Culture, Media & Sport via Arts Council England and the devolved government in Wales, with generous support from publishers.

We provide free Bookstart resources to every local authority in England and Wales, who then work across public services to meet local needs. Resources are delivered in person to families by health, library and early years professionals, and practitioners who support women's refuges, teenage parents, Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities, and other groups.

Selecting books

Publishers may submit books for consideration by an independent panel of early years book experts and professionals. The books must:

  • spark imagination and curiosity
  • be fun to share (over and over again!)
  • reflect our society and celebrate diversity
  • have CE certification for health and safety.


Libraries are open to everyone for exploring stories, books and rhymes. Book Trust encourages library membership and works closely with libraries to:

  • promote reading every day for pleasure
  • provide packs as the first step in loving books
  • host rhyme and story sessions
  • bring families and communities together.

Health professionals

Health professionals gift the Bookstart Baby pack in a child’s first year, while celebrating parents and carers as first teachers and spreading the word that it's never too early to read with babies or bumps! Getting into this habit helps parents with:

  • building a strong and loving relationship with their child
  • developing their child’s communication skills and supporting their wellbeing
  • encouraging pre-literacy and social skills for a flying start in life.

Early years settings

Bookstart Treasure gifts are delivered through nursery classes, playgroups and children’s centres, as well as libraries. These early years settings also help to promote Bookstart and Book Trust messages by:

  • Signposting families to other means of receiving their packs
  • Highlighting the importance of sharing stories, books and rhymes
  • Helping to prepare children for school and give them a flying start with reading.