The Booktrust programmes Booktime, for Reception-aged children (aged 4-5), and Booked Up, for Year 7 (11-12), will give two million free books to pupils by Christmas. Designed to encourage reading for pleasure, the initiatives are supported in England by the Department for Children, Schools and Families, and both are free to all participating schools. Public libraries and school library services are also being offered the opportunity to receive free sets of the books and supporting resources to enhance the Booktime and Booked Up programmes. Booktime, which is run in association with Pearson, will this year give a copy of Puffin's Mr Big by Ed Vere and The Booktime Book of Fantastic First Poems edited by June Crebbin. The accompanying packs will contain guidance material for parents and carers to encourage sharing books with children.
Said Marjorie Scardino, CEO of Pearson: 'When we launched Booktime back in 2005, our aim was simple: we wanted to help cultivate a love of reading in every child starting school in the UK, because we believed it would start them on a journey through a wider world. This year we hope that the gift of Ed Vere's beautiful story of Mr Big and Puffin's poetry collection will launch a few more children on that journey.'
Booked Up - which encourages reading independently and for pleasure at what's considered a difficult transition time - allows children to make their own choices of books from a selection of 12 titles, selected by a Booktrust panel comprising librarians, booksellers, teachers, journalists and children's book reviewers. The list comprises Flood Child by Emily Diamond (Chicken House); Read Me Out Loud! poetry anthology (Macmillan Children's Books); Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan (Puffin); Once by Morris Gleitzman (Puffin); Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key by Jack Gantos (Random House); Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney (Puffin); Desirable by Frank Cottrell Boyce (Barrington Stoke); WOW! 366 short story collection (Scholastic); Blood Hunters by Steve Voake (Faber); Underworld by Cathy MacPhail (Bloomsbury); An Urgent Message of Wowness by Karen McCombie (Scholastic); and How Loud Can You Burp? by Glenn Murphy (Macmillan). The picture-book option is Derek the Sheep by Gary Northfield (Bloomsbury).
Other options will also be made available with the aim of catering for the widest range of needs. These will include further picture-book selections and two audiobook choices.
All information about Booktime and Booked Up can be found on the websites www.booktime.org.uk and www.bookedup.org.uk. Secondary schools can register for Booked Up by visiting the website.
Viv Bird, Chief Executive of Booktrust, commented: 'Starting primary or secondary school can be an intimidating experience for many children. At Booktrust, we are immensely proud that the Booktime and Booked Up programmes with their gift of a free book introduce children not only to their new school but act as a reminder of the joys and simple pleasures of reading. We know that Booktime and Booked Up can help develop a real love of reading, as the books on the list are certain to excite, enthuse and entertain children of all abilities.'