In January 2016 Bolton Council’s Early Years and Childcare Team asked Bolton Library and Museum Service to join in a project to increase literacy levels among young children. Making it REAL (Raising Early Achievement in Literacy) was originally developed by Cathy Nutbrown and Peter Hannon from the University of Sheffield, and brings early years practitioners together with families both at home and in community areas. The aim: to promote family literacy activities.

Library staff went through REAL project training and worked with the Early Years practitioners to identify how the library could best support the project.

Library staff visited children at nursery / school to read a story and collect completed library membership forms. Then the library and museum hosted families for bespoke story and rhyme workshops, on a theme of the nursery’s choice. The workshops also gave families the time and space to explore the library and books. Children and families were given their new library cards and began using the library straight away. Children were given a Bear’s Reading Adventure sticker book to encourage continued use of and excitement about the library.

A community event for phase 2 of the project will take place at Farnworth Library in March 2017. This will be a family fun day, with lots of different literacy-related activities put on by all the partners involved in the project.

Emma Ali, Bolton Libraries & Learning, said: “So far, six nurseries and schools have brought groups of children and their families to the library and we have registered more than 150 children as library members. Each has borrowed at least one book.”

Bristol Libraries host a popular reading and rhyme session for early years and parents/carers.

Some schools brought entire year groups of children, not just the ones who were involved in the REAL project. The project has built strong relationships between the library and museum service and the Bolton’s Early Years and Childcare Team, and with the nurseries and schools.

“We all had a great time and it was so lovely to see the children so excited about reading!! It was a wonderful experience for them!” Vicky Turner, Gaskell Primary School teacher

“We will be coming every term!” Teacher, Canterbury’s Nursery