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Pilot aims to get more families using Wisbech library and its huge array of books

A Fenland library has been chosen for a new pilot scheme to help encourage disadvantaged families use it and encourage children to read more.

Wisbech Library has been chosen as one of 10 pilot libraries across the country to support disadvantaged families with children in their early years to engage with their local library and develop an ongoing reading habit.

BookTrust Storytime has been developed by BookTrust, the UK’s largest children’s reading charity, in partnership with libraries, local authorities and families.

Rosie Rawling community library assistant - among the library's extensive children's section.
Rosie Rawling community library assistant - among the library's extensive children's section.

It aims to bring together local authorities, libraries, authors and illustrators to test new ways of inspiring shared early years story experiences through local libraries. The BookTrust Storytime experience will incorporate the BookTrust’s existing Storytime Prize, which celebrates the best early years children’s books.

Each of the 10 libraries will receive ten sets of the Storytime shortlisted books, including large format versions for Storytime sessions as well as a range of resources and collectables to help encourage families to take part.

BookTrust will engage with parents and library staff to understand barriers to using libraries and how libraries can best support families who need more help in beginning their reading journeys.

Rosie Rawling community library assistant.
Rosie Rawling community library assistant.

Wisbech Library will be launching the pilot scheme this week, which is Libraries Week - an annual showcase and celebration of the best that libraries have to offer.

In addition to the pilot libraries, a further 300 libraries across the country, including those at Arbury and Ramsey, will receive multiple Storytime shortlist packs, digital and physical resources to reach families, as well as running Storytime sessions for local families.

Wisbech, Arbury and Ramsey libraries will be working closely with their local children’s centres to involve families in the BookTrust scheme.

Councillor Tom Sanderson, chair of Cambridgeshire’s communities, social mobility and inclusion committee, said: “For many families, libraries play a hugely important role in supporting the beginning of a child’s reading journey, through borrowing books as well as rhymetime and storytime events.

“As a pilot for the BookTrust Storytime experience, Wisbech Library will be able to engage with those families who don’t already use their local library – as well as those who do – so that more children can reap the transformational benefits of reading.

“Along with Arbury and Ramsey libraries, our team will be well supported in working with their local communities to kick-start visits to the library as part of the recovery from the pandemic, and support more disadvantaged children.

“Of course, all our libraries will be taking part in the BookTrust Storytime experience, so I would encourage every family with young children to take part in the activities on offer at their local library.”

Look out for copies of the BookTrust Storytime Prize shortlisted books in your library from mid-October.

To find out more about the BookTrust Storytime Prize visit the BookTrust website: https://www.booktrust.org.uk/what-we-do/awards-and-prizes/current-prizes/booktrust-storytime-prize/

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