Bookstart is having to stop its scheme to provide free packs of books to young children in England from April 2011.
The charity currently provides books to all babies through health centres and health visitors. Once children start school, they receive another free pack of books through its scheme Booktime and then all pupils are able to choose a free book when they start secondary school through Booked Up.
However, all three projects, aimed at encouraging all children to read, will come to an end in April next year when the Department of Education pulls its entire £13 million funding.
“Booktrust had notification that funding for all our English book gifting programmes will be cut by 100% from April 1 2011,” said a statement from the charity. “We are immensely surprised and disappointed by this decision and know that families, teachers, librarians, health visitors and many others will be sharing these feelings.”
Booktrust is now trying to find alternative sources of funding for the schemes, stating “we will do our utmost to make sure that every child continues to be given the opportunity to develop a lifelong love of books”.
A spokesperson for the Department of Education replied, “We believe that homes should be places that inspire a love of books and reading. Whilst we appreciate that some families will need to be supported if they are to provide this kind of environment, in these difficult economic times, ministers have to take tough decisions on spending.”
Have your children benefitted from any of these free book schemes? Do you think funding should continue?