Bookbug, Scotland’s universal early years book gifting programme, celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2020, and Cumbernauld Family Hub has taken some time to reflect on the success and impact of the programme locally and nationally.
Launched in 2010 by Scottish Book Trust with the backing of Scottish Government’s Improving Health and Wellbeing Division, Creative Scotland’s Youth Music Initiativeand NHS Health Scotland, Bookbug gives every child in Scotland four free bags of books as babies, toddlers, three and five year olds. The bags contain books and other resources for sharing songs and rhymes that are suited to their age.
Over the past decade, Bookbug Sessions have been delivered widely across Scotland to provide opportunities for mums, dads and carers to enjoy sharing stories, songs and rhymes with their little ones in a safe, friendly and informal environment. Sessions are typically hosted in libraries and community venues.
Upon the introduction of Cumbernauld Family Hub, Cornerstone House Centre became an affiliated partner of Scottish Book Trust, commencing delivery of free Bookbug Sessions for parents and children from birth to pre-school age living in Cumbernauld and surrounding areas.
Launched in 2017 with support of The National Lottery Community Fund, Cumbernauld Family Hub provides a unique family support resource for the local area incorporating a multitude of activities, including creative play, practical health promotion, learning opportunities, personal development and active citizenship.
As part of this innovation, a regular programme of term-time and school holiday blocks of weekly Bookbug Sessions have become a popular mainstay at Cornerstone House Centre, with over 200 families benefiting. Sessions last 25 minutes, with group leaders trained to facilitate stories and songs in a fun and interactive way.
Bookbug provision has allowed Cumbernauld children and families to positively develop and bond through reading stories and singing songs together. Mary McNeil, Development Manager at Cornerstone House Centre, said:
“It is evident that Bookbug has made an extremely important contribution in effectively supporting families who face barriers to accessing services in Scotland over the last ten years, and Cornerstone House Centre has been proud to play a small part in its growth.
“Within Cumbernauld, delivery of the programme has enabled Cumbernauld Family Hub to reach and support families that it may otherwise not have had the opportunity to, in particular parents and guardians experiencing disadvantage or inequality as a result of health, finance, age or social status.
“Locally, it has been established that Bookbug has helped parents feel better equipped to play and interact with their children, improved the language and communication skills of toddlers, prepared children for adapting to nursery and increased the guardianship confidence of kinship carers.
“Whilst face-to-face Bookbug Sessions have been paused across the country at present due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Cornerstone House Centre continues to actively engage with Bookbug service users on a weekly basis through remote means.
“Cumbernauld Family Hub is encouraging local families to make use of online Bookbug resources, including Bookbug’s Songs and Rhymes App, the Bookbug Song and Rhyme Library and the Bookbug Home Activities Hub during the period of coronavirus restrictions.”
Cumbernauld is just one of many towns and settlements in Scotland which have benefited significantly from Bookbug since 2010. Marc Lambert, CEO of Scottish Book Trust, commented:
“We are extremely proud of the impact the programme has made in the last decade, from delivering free bags of books, to bringing communities together through Sessions, to working with families at home who need our support to get started sharing stories and songs together.
“We’d like to thank all our colleagues from libraries, health, education, social care and the third sector for building Bookbug with us – it truly is a national partnership that shows how much we value books and value children.
“Thanks also to everyone for their birthday messages for Bookbug and, despite the difficult circumstances facing our country at present, we hope that families can join us to celebrate remotely in 2020.” Additionally, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon lauded the cultural and social outcomes accomplished by Bookbug to date, remarking:
“Since it was launched ten years ago, Bookbug has provided well over six million books to children across Scotland.
“Last year alone, more than 600,000 parents and children took part in dedicated Bookbug Sessions, and of course, thanks to professionals working across our country, thousands of other families took part in Bookbug activities.
“The activities Bookbug promotes help families to bond and develop, providing them with language learning and social skills that will benefit them throughout their entire lives.
“And of course, reading, storytelling and singing are a source of deep joy and pleasure for children and adults alike.
“So as we celebrate this anniversary I want to congratulate all of the parents, children, carers and professionals who have taken part in Bookbug over the past decade.”
In 2019 alone, more than 24,000 Bookbug Sessions were facilitated across Scotland, with a total of 885,000 books gifted.
During lockdown, Scottish Book Trust is sharing a new online Bookbug Session every Monday via its website. Furthermore, to mark its milestone year, a range of special Bookbug resources, tools and festivities have been added online.
Scottish Book Trust also supports delivery of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Scotland, with free books delivered monthly to every looked after child from birth to five years old. Cornerstone House Centre is a local facilitator of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, providing free books to underprivileged babies and toddlers living in Cumbernauld.
Meanwhile, a date for the reopening of Cornerstone House Centre’s community-owned building in Cumbernauld town centre is due to be confirmed in the coming weeks in line with Scottish Government guidance and following a detailed risk assessment.
The organisation is currently redesigning delivery of its Bookbug and Stay and Play Sessions so that they can be provided in a safe and socially-distanced manner later in the year.
For further information or to express interest in attending Bookbug Sessions at Cornerstone House Centre in the second half of 2020, please contact Cumbernauld Family Hub on 07940 569527 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.