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Going for gold with Bookstart Bear

Press release   •   Jun 05, 2014 17:49 BST

National Bookstart Week is being celebrated throughout the borough, with this year’s focus being ‘reading everyday’ and the theme of ‘my hero’.  

This year’s National Bookstart Week runs from Monday 9 to Sunday 15 June and will see families coming together to discover stories, rhymes and to let their imaginations run wild.

The Bookstart Bear Club is free and runs in all libraries across the borough throughout the year. It helps pre-school children develop a love of books, and rewards regular library visits.

Councillor Neil Emmott, Cabinet Member for Corporate Services and Neighbourhood, said

“The Bookstart programme is a fantastic initiative for children to start their literary journey. What the libraries offer throughout the borough is wonderful and I encourage as many families as possible to get involved in National Bookstart Week and to don their favourite heroes costumes for the sessions.” 

Alkrington Library has already signed up 100 children to its Bookstart Bear scheme and local youngster Sebastian Whiteley recently achieved his special 10th certificate, the first child in the Alkrington area to do so.

Sebastian earned his gold Bookstart Bear Club award by receiving plenty of “paw prints” and collecting all 10 certificates.

His mother, Natalie Whiteley said:

“Sebastian loves books and has always seen a trip to the library as a treat! He has enjoyed getting his stamps and certificates as part of the Bookstart Bear Club. Mrs. Peachey (a Rochdale Borough Libraries’ Early Years Library Worker) had been to visit his nursery school (Sunny Brow in Middleton) the week before and this made him even more eager to get his last stamp and the final special shiny certificate! She really inspired him!”

When children join the club they receive a small ‘passport’ and get a paw stamp each time they visit the library to borrow, share books or attend a Bookstart Bear session, storytime or other event. These stamps work like a loyalty scheme and after six paw prints, they receive a certificate. There are 10 certificates to collect, with the final having a special gold design.

Irene Peachey, said:

“The club develops self-esteem, confidence and a sense of achievement and belonging within children which is a wonderful way of preparing children for school. Sebastian has taken the challenge head on and done a wonderful job. He has been rewarded with his gold certificate which he thoroughly deserves”.

Irene leads free Bookstart Bear Club sessions, with stories, songs and interactive puppets, at six libraries across the borough throughout the year. During National Bookstart Week, each child attending a session will receive a specially produced “Super Duck” book by acclaimed author/ illustrator Jez Alborough, to tie in to the ‘my hero’ theme. Children attending in fancy dress (firefighters, doctors, superheroes, etc.) is optional, but adds to the fun.

National Bookstart Week is an annual celebration of Bookstart, the flagship reading programme from national charity, Booktrust. Bookstart aims to help every child in England to develop a lifelong love of reading that will give them a flying start in life (cape optional) through gifting free books to every child.

To find out more about the Bookstart Bear Club or any other sessions in the borough’s libraries see or

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Rochdale Borough Council - We are a council which builds success and prosperity with our citizens and partners, whilst protecting our vulnerable people.

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