Bookbug Explorer Bag

Please Note: The Bookbug Explorer Bag was formerly the Bookbug Pirate Bag. For more details on why we made this change please see this blog post.

Thank you for your support in giving out the Bookbug Bags. We need to ensure that every child receives a Bookbug Bag and their parents and carers are given consistent messages about book sharing. We hope that you find the information below useful when giving out the bags.


How are the Bookbug Explorer Bags given to families?

The Bookbug Explorer Bag is given to 3-year-old children in their ante-preschool year at nursery.

All 3-year-old children are entitled to a Bookbug Explorer Bag and staff at early years settings (pre-school, playgroups or nursery) are responsible for ensuring children get their bag.

If a child does not attend an early years setting, we advise parents or professionals to request a bag at their local library or contact their local Bookbug Co-ordinator.


How to get the most from the Bookbug Explorer Bags

The Explorer Bag Gifting Guidance has quick tips on getting kids excited about their bags and key messages to share with parents and carers. You may also want to download our Bookbug Explorer Bag Handbook, which supports the Explorer Bag Gifting training or the Bookbug Explorer Bag Learning Resource, relating to the books in the current 2019/20 Explorer Bag. There is lots of information and ideas on how to use the Bookbug Bag in nursery to increase parents’ involvement and ideas to extend children’s learning. There are song, rhyme and book suggestions as well as guidance linking the Bookbug Programme and the Explorer Bag to national policies such as the Curriculum for Excellence.

Research on book gifting programmes suggests that involving parents when the bags are given to children makes a big difference to how the bag is used at home.

We encourage nurseries to hold events with parents to give out the bags, and explore the books with children before they are given out:

“If we want the Bags to have an impact we need to communicate our own enthusiasm and our belief that they are important... we’ve found that parents and grandparents love to share memories of their own favourite childhood stories, and often don’t realise that a simple activity like reading a story or singing a nursery rhyme can have such a profound effect.”

Alison Smith, Stanwell Nursery 

Build the excitement with parents, carers and children

Get children really excited about their gift from Bookbug. Build the excitement before you gift the Bags. Read the books and play a few new tracks from the Explorer CD each day.

Decide with the children how you’d like to celebrate giving the books and plan an event – make sure children invite their parents or carers.

Involve parents and carers

Invite parents and carers to a gifting event for the Explorer Bag. For example, you could hold a special exploration-themed story session. If families can’t be there, make sure they know that their 3-year-old will be taking home a special gift from Bookbug. The Explorer Bag also contains activities that parents and children can do together. Encourage them to take part in the activities with their child.

Go exploring!

Venture out for a walk in the community. Is there a nearby park? What else can you explore in your community? You could go on an adventure to explore your local library.

If someone new were to come and visit your nursery, or your community, what would you take them to explore in your community?

Visit your local library

Many local libraries are happy to arrange special story and song sessions to help you gift the Explorer Bag. Contact your local library to ask what support they can give. Invite parents and carers to come along to the library with their child and encourage them to sign their child up for a library card and borrow some books.


Download a Bookbug Explorer Bag Handbook (PDF) 

Download the Explorer Bag Gifting Guidance (PDF)

Download Bookbug Explorer Bag Learning Resource (PDF)


Bookbug Explorer Bag Training: Making the Most of Your Gifting Events

Bookbug runs free training sessions for early years professionals giving out the Bookbug Explorer Bags. These sessions explore story reading, involving parents in gifting and book sharing, action songs and music making in the early years. For details please see our training courses section of the website.

To set up a training session please contact or phone 0131 541 2342.


How do I get more Bookbug Explorer Bags?

If you have not received any Bookbug Explorer bags, or enough bags for the 3-year-olds in your nursery, please contact your local Bookbug Co-ordinator who will be able to supply you with more or direct you to the person in your area who co-ordinates the distribution of the bags.


Working with children with Additional Support Needs?

CALL Scotland have created a fantastic pack of symbolised resources to accompany the books in the Bookbug Explorer bag. The resources can be used with children with Additional Support Needs, communication difficulties and with English as an Additional Language too! Download these from our Bookbug Explorer Bag Learning Resource page.


Why do we give out the Bookbug Explorer Bag?

The Explorer Bag builds on the book sharing message of the first two bags with more age-appropriate resources to help support children’s learning and development. This bag can also be used as a link between home and nursery. Please have a good look at what’s inside the Bookbug Bags before giving them out. The contents change every year so the bag contents may vary.

The Bookbug Explorer Bag includes:

  • Three picture books - These beautiful books have been specially selected by a panel of Early Years experts as well as being tested with families.
  • My Bookbug Explorer Activity Book - This activity book is a great way to encourage children to talk about the books in their Explorer Bag and share their drawings. There are some activity pages based on the books and some handy book recommendations.
  • Bookbug Explorer Pencils - These 6 brightly coloured pencils are ideal for children learning to write. 
  • My Bookbug Explorer CD - This CD is packed full of songs and nursery rhymes for families to enjoy. Many of the songs and rhymes can also be heard at local Bookbug Sessions. The tracks can be listened to online.
  • 4 large postcards - These postcards are perfect for sending to grandparents, neighbours and friends, with plenty of space for children to write their own personal message.
  • Parent Leaflet – this includes tips on sharing the books and other items with children.
  • Bookbug alerts sign-up form - Bookbug alerts let a parent know when their next Bookbug Bag is due as well as giving them reading tips and book recommendations
  • All contents come in a sturdy child-sized canvas bag with smaller handles. Children will love carrying their books around by themselves!