Dual language – policy and guidance

Find out more about gifting dual language books

Research shows that families should share books in their home language

Book Trust is dedicated to encouraging people of all ages and cultures to engage with books. We want to ensure that everyone has access to books and the opportunity to enjoy reading. Through universal bookgifting we aim to show children and families that books in the home and shared reading can be enjoyed by all, benefitting parental bonding, family cohesion, and positive attitudes to learning, and that these principles have impact across all sectors of society.

Research recommends that families should talk and share books in their home language first and dual language (D/L) books are a good way to introduce parents to the opportunity of sharing books in their home language and English. The national Bookstart programme provides schemes with free D/L books in a range of languages.

The aims of the dual language offer

  • Show families that books are produced in D/L format and encourage them to seek out D/L books in their library or buy D/L books
  • Give families the gift of a D/L book with their Bookstart pack for them to enjoy
  • Provide D/L books free of charge to children’s centres for a Bookstart Book Corner for families to use in the setting or to borrow to use at home.
  • Provide free D/L guidance materials that children’s centres can gift to families.
  • Provide free D/L books and D/L guidance materials to schemes so that professionals working directly with ethnic communities can gift them to eligible families. 


How you can gift the dual language books to parents

Please ensure that gifting partners and parents are aware that a D/L book contains text in both English and the community language and that therefore there are advantages to receiving it.  The primary aim of this offer is to inform the parent about D/L formats and the offer of a free D/L book will be a welcome addition to many families. However, schemes should offer a D/L book and not assume that the family will want this gift – some may not.

  • In order to maintain the cost feasibility of this provision it is essential that children are only provided with one D/L book.
  • The D/L book can be given to the child with any one of the Bookstart packs. The choice of which pack the book is gifted with is decided locally by the scheme.
  • The D/L books are not aligned to the packs. Any book can be gifted with any pack.
  • A guidance booklet for the parent/carer in the community language of the D/L book should also be gifted where available.
  • Guidance booklets in community languages can be gifted to a parent/carer with any or all of the Bookstart packs, even if a D/L book is not gifted.
  • Gifting partners should, where possible, sign the Red Book to indicate that the child has received a D/L book.
  • Gifting partners are encouraged to ask parents if they have already received a D/L book before gifting. Also, they are asked to kindly request that parents should decline the offer of another D/L book should they be offered one in the future.
  • Where gifting D/L books with the Bookstart packs is problematic, professionals working directly with community groups may gift D/L books and guidance materials to eligible families. These gifts may happen separately from the Bookstart packs, provided that the families are made aware of the availability of the packs and that the D/L books are gifted with the Bookstart message. (Please contact your BDM when you have identified professionals working with families that can be supported this way before gifting).
  • The number of D/L books gifted must be recorded as it may be required at the year end as part of the online audit.


Find out more

Download resources for families with English as a second language – including translated guidance booklets and book sharing tips

Bookstart Coordinators can find out more and place orders for the dual language resources (login required)

How to order support materials

Certificates, posters, Bookstart Bear toys and more...your Bookstart Coordinator can order materials to support your work with Bookstart.