National Children’s Literacy Programme is ‘Building Families’

Sharing a book
Category: Press Releases

The twins are now more affectionate to other members of the family. Lorna said that “they know how to do a proper cuddle now” and they tell their parents and brother that they love them.  – Extract from case study of The Smiths, who took part in the Bookbug for the Home programme.

Scotland’s national bookgifting programme, Bookbug, has a beneficial effect on Scottish families which extends far beyond literacy, according to new evidence from early years research scientist Dr Suzanne Zeedyk and research consultancy Blake Stevenson ltd.

Bookbug is Scottish Book Trust’s Early Years programme, encouraging parents and children to read together from birth. Funded by the Scottish Government, it provides free packs of books to every baby, toddler, three and five year old in Scotland, distributed by local authorities. Free Bookbug song, rhyme and story sessions are also run by libraries and other community settings across the country.

Dr Zeedyk undertook a year-long evaluation of the programme’s Bookbug for the Home training, which aims to expand the reach of Bookbug to vulnerable families and those living in deprived areas. Professionals who work in families’ homes, such as social workers, are provided with the knowledge and resources to introduce the principles of Bookbug Sessions – talking, singing, cuddling and book sharing– into the homes of the most vulnerable families in Scotland.

The researchers found that parents who took part in Bookbug for the Home had developed closer bonds with their children, and felt more equipped to play, interact and read with them, with the number of people reading daily with their children increasing from 41% to 78%, and the number of people singing or rhyming daily with their children increasing from 53% to 78%. This in turn has had a beneficial effect on children’s confidence, social skills, speech and language development and positively impacted on parent and child attachment, with 98% of the professionals who undertook the training noticing a positive impact on the families involved in the programme.

One family in particular, the Smiths*, were found to have benefitted greatly from the introduction of Bookbug for the Home into their family setting. Lorna and Andy Smith live just outside Glasgow with their three sons – Jack (5) and twins Ben and Kyle (3½). The twins, who have delayed language development, attend nursery at a local family centre. Before the Bookbug for the Home sessions, the family found it difficult to cope with the twins’ development needs and their behaviour, which included “growling or screaming” if a stranger asked them a question. After the Smith’s Family Learning Development worker led 14 Bookbug for the Home Sessions with the family, the researchers recorded many improvements in the twins behaviour and in the family’s relationships with each other, to the extent that the family can now enjoy cuddles with the twins and trips to the cinema and soft play together, which were previously impossible due to the twins behaviour.

Dr Zeedyk says that this study is helping Scotland to reframe its cultural understanding of reading, by asking us to conceive of reading in its earliest stages not as an academic capacity, but as an emotional one: 

“Bookbug Sessions have an impact on aspects of child development and family life that extend far beyond literacy…they impact on: affection, the ability to express one’s self, language development, and the ability of a family to engage in outings like the cinema and shopping. It is important that we take on the full import of these insights, and realise that Bookbug is building relationships.”

There was also a noted impact on professionals who undertook the training, with 99% saying it was relevant to their role and a good use of their time and 71% stating that it had positively impacted on their professional practice.

Marc Lambert, Director of Scottish Book Trust, said:

“This new research firmly establishes that Bookbug song and rhyme Sessions can make a huge difference to the foundations of childhood, both in terms of supporting the formation of positive and loving family and parent-child relationships, and in terms of developing other vital life skills as well. As we all know, the early years are crucially important for a child’s development and this support can make a real difference to their future happiness, attainment and wellbeing. That’s why, in partnership with the Scottish Government, Creative Scotland, Public Library Services, Local Authorities and Third Sector organisations across Scotland, we are working hard to bring these benefits to all.”

To read the full evaluation report and to learn more about the Bookbug for the Home programme and how to get involved, please visit

The Bookbug for the Home programme is currently entering its third year and will be available in every local authority in Scotland by 2016.

For all press queries or photo requests, please contact Helen Croney, PR Manager: - 0131 524 0175 – 07751 69 58 54

*Names and location have been changed to protect the family’s anonymity.

Notes to Editors:

  • Parents feeling more equipped to play and interact with their children
  • Sustained changes in how parents read, sang and talked with their children
  • Parents feeling they have a closer bond with their children
  • Children gaining in confidence and self-expression
  • Children improving language and communication skills
  • Children improving behaviour
  • Children being better prepared to fit in with some of the routines of nursery
  • Scottish Book Trust is the leading agency for the promotion of literature, reading and writing in Scotland. It develops innovative projects to encourage adults and children to read and write, supports professional writers with a range of projects including skills development and awards, funds a variety of literature events and promotes Scottish writing to people worldwide.
  • Bookbug is Scotland’s national book gifting programme, encouraging parents and children to share books together from birth. We gift books to every baby, toddler, 3 and 5-year-old in Scotland in five free Bookbug packs:

-        Baby pack (gifted by a health visitor to every baby)

-        Toddler pack (gifted by a health visitor to every toddler)

-        Pirate pack (gifted at nursery to every 3-year-old)

-        Primary 1 Family Pack (gifted at school to every P1 pupil)

-        Dolly Parton Imagination Library (free books delivered monthly to every Looked After Child aged 0-5 in Scotland)

Bookbug Sessions are run by your local library or community group. These are free, fun-filled story and rhyme sessions for 0-4-year-olds, attended by more than 480,000 parents and children a year. For details of local Bookbug Sessions go to

Bookbug is run by Scottish Book Trust and funded by the Scottish Government. Bookbug Session Leader Training is funded by the Scottish Government Youth Music Initiative programme. Local pack gifting and coordination of Bookbug Sessions and Bookbug’s Library Challenge is organised by local authorities via the library service or education department in conjunction with the NHS. For more information go to