Bookstart inspires a love of books and reading.

Bookstart is a national programme from BookTrust which gives free books to all babies and young children to support fundamental early years language and literacy development. Booktrust has a great website offering fun ideas, stories and help for parents and is worth a visit. Staff in libraries, preschools, schools and other settings may also find helpful resources and advice there.

Oxfordshire Libraries coordinates the delivery of the universal programme to health, education and registration settings as well as individual parents or childminders through local libraries acting as collection points.

The universal service comprises 'Baby' packs for 0-12 months old. These can be supplemented with free books in dual languages in most European and some world languages. There are also packs suitable for children with special educational needs (SEN) requirements.

Pack Age of child
Baby Up to 12 months
Shine 0 to 5 years - for children who are deaf
Touch 0 to 5 years – for children who are blind or partially sighted
Star 4 to 5 years – for children who have disabilities that impact/delay the development of motor skills

Bookstart for babies 0-12 months

Health visitor teams, early years and registration settings can request packs from the Bookstart coordinator by emailing . From May 2021, settings will be advised to collect their orders from a nominated library for preference.

Parents and childminders can visit the following libraries for Baby packs: Abingdon, Banbury, Bicester, Botley, Charlbury, Chinnor, Chipping Norton, Cowley, Didcot, Eynsham, Headington, Henley, Kennington, Kidlington, Littlemore, North Leigh, Oxfordshire County Library (Oxford), Sonning Common, Summertown, Thame, Wallingford, Wantage, Witney and Wychwood.

Parents and childminders who require any of the additional resources such as dual language or SEN packs may contact the Bookstart Coordinator: with your requirements and nominate an Oxfordshire library as the collection point  - Find A Library

Bookstart Treasure for pre-schoolers 36-48 months

This programme is no longer readily available from Booktrust. 

Dual language books

For children with English as their second language, parents and participating settings can ask for one additional book, which will be in dual language (other language plus English). Bookstart can supply a board book for most languages suitable for 0-12-month-old babies. Picture books are available in all languages and are suitable for children aged 2-4 years, or thereabouts. 

Languages which are normally available are:

Albanian, Arabic, Bengali, Bulgarian, Chinese (Cantonese), Chinese (Mandarin), Croatian, Czech, Dari, Farsi, French, German, Greek, Gujarati, Hindi, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Kurdish, Latvian, Lithuanian, Nepalese, Panjabi, Pashto, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovakian, Somali, Spanish, Tagalog, Tamil, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu, Vietnamese and Welsh. 

Library Rhymetimes

BookTrust encourage rhymes and rhymetime activities as these play an important role in developing early language skills in babies and toddlers and they are fun for parents. Many of our libraries offer regular rhymetimes.

Are you interested in becoming a rhymetime volunteer? Please enquire at your local library.

Letterbox Club

Helping children who are looked after, previously looked after, vulnerable or on the edge of care, with reading and numeracy.

Oxfordshire County Council, schools and nurseries enrol children in this programme directly via the Letterbox Club contact at Booktrust.. Each child receives their own colourful parcel of books, maths games, stationery once a month for six months, usually from May to October.

Annual registration opens in November for the next year.

School library packs

The School Library Pack and Special School Library Pack are reading for pleasure programmes, providing free books to mainstream schools in England, with a year 7 intake plus those with children on free school meals.

The pack contains carefully selected books, to help boost school libraries, broaden students reading and encourage them to try different genres and authors. The Special School Library Pack includes books and resources to support students with additional needs.

Thanks to the funding by Arts Council England and Booktrust’s partners and donors, we can make this pack free to eligible schools.

Booktrust are distributing the packs directly to schools, with no registration. Eligible schools will be contacted directly.


Bookbuzz is a reading programme from Booktrust that aims to help schools inspire a love of reading in 11 to 13-year-olds.

Participating schools give their students the opportunity to choose their own book to take home and keep from a list of 17 titles. They are all carefully selected by a panel of experts to ensure quality, suitability and to encourage reading for pleasure.

Registration for Bookbuzz opens around August/September and closes in October.