7 June 2016

Families have been encouraged to pick up a book this morning at an under-the-sea themed reading and rhyming adventure held in the city centre.

Sheffield libraries organised the Peace Garden event to mark the start of National Bookstart Week which promotes the importance of reading with children from a young age.

Around 400 young children and their parents and carers attended today, with children dressed as mermaids, pirates and sharks. They took part in story-time sessions, rhymes, crafts and a fancy dress parade.

Further events are being held at libraries across Sheffield to celebrate National Bookstart Week. All children attending will be given a free story gifted by the charity Book Trust: A hole in the bottom of the sea by Jessica Law.

Councillor Jack Scott, cabinet member for community services and libraries at Sheffield City Council, said: “It’s been fantastic to see the children enjoying all the activities today and getting involved with the stories.

“It’s really important that children are encouraged to develop a life-long love of reading. That’s what this week is all about and what libraries and schools are doing across Sheffield.

“Spending just ten minutes a day reading with your children can make a real difference, and from as young an age as possible. I hope everyone enjoys the activities being held in libraries throughout the week.”

Nic Reed, mum of Jake aged three, attended the event. She said: “I just wanted to say a big thank you to the library service for all the support and facilities available for new mums, dads and children in Sheffield. It really helped me find my feet during the first year of my son’s life.”

Sheffield joins hundreds of other places across England celebrating National Bookstart Week which runs from June 6 to 12 and will see more than 450,000 books gifted to pre-school children by Book Trust.

Diana Gerald, Chief Executive of Book Trust, said: “Sharing a book is a magical experience which every child should benefit from. For a few minutes the outside world stops while you read about sharks or pirates.

“Research has shown that if a parent reads to their infant every day they will be almost 12 months ahead of those who are read to less often, in terms of their reading and language skills.”

Visit www.sheffield.gov.uk/libraries for more information.