The Bookstart programme, run by the UK’s largest children’s reading charity BookTrust, provides books to families with very young children and encourages positive home learning environments from an early age.
It is expected that book packs will be delivered to 24,000 families with young children this year.
In announcing the Department’s support, Education Minister Peter Weir acknowledged the difficulties being faced by new parents during the Covid-19 crisis and the benefits of providing books directly to families.
Mr Weir said: “I am pleased to confirm that my Department will be contributing to the Bookstart programme in Northern Ireland this year.
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“It is recognised that many new parents may not have access to the same support networks during this very difficult period, or access to books for their children due to libraries being closed.”
The Department will contribute £50,000 towards the delivery of BookTrust’s Bookstart programme in Northern Ireland in 2020/21.
Liz Canning, Head of BookTrust Northern Ireland, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be working with the Department of Education to fund our flagship programme Bookstart Baby across Northern Ireland. This support means that we can now extend our vital programme to all families in Northern Ireland, helping them to start their reading journey, by sharing books, stories and rhymes from an early age.
“It’s never been a more important time for us to reach families, who may be lacking the support and access to books they would normally have.