Inclusive, accessible story times with Bookstart

Often Savera UK’s clients speak basic or no English and therefore do not always have the opportunity to read stories to their children. This can lead to longer-term implications such as speech delays and isolation in school.

To tackle this issue, the Savera UK team is working with Bookstart, a national book gifting programme available to all children aged 0-5 years old. Bookstart aims to promote and encourage families to share books, stories and rhymes as early as possible. It is based on the simple premise that children who have an early introduction to books and are read to every day, benefit educationally, culturally, socially and emotionally.

What makes Bookstart really outstanding is that they provide books in dual languages, meaning parents can read traditional stories with their children, in their native language and learn some English as a bonus.

We have been able to get children’s books in Somali, Kurdish Sorani, Kurdish and Arabic. This means stories are accessible for all children, irrespective of their background and native language. Moreover, the stories are inclusive, meaning adults and children from diverse backgrounds are represented in these stories and can see main characters that look like them.

This is absolutely fundamental to growth, learning and equality. Offering dual language books as part of the Bookstart programme is a great way to introduce sharing stories to parents and carers who may not feel confident in doing so entirely in English and it allows the same opportunity to those who cannot speak English. Fundamentally, offering books in both languages removes barriers and limitations.

We have worked hard to create a warming and safe environment to host our drop-in sessions, with part of the room being dedicated to a reading corner. We hope this will be a welcome environment where parents can read to their children and enjoy the stories together as a family.

By Emma, Savera UK HBA Support Worker