Cuts bite into toddler’s illiteracy initiative

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Little Jasia reading photo by Karolina Przeklas


Despite the promise from Islington Council not to implement cuts to library services, the Baby Bounce and Rhyme sessions for parents and toddlers are being reduced.

The Labour government’s initiative to tackle child illiteracy started fifteen years ago, as part of the ‘Book Start’ scheme. Baby Bounce and Rhyme bring babies into contact with books. It’s an interactive way for parents to introduce toddlers to the fun and enjoyment of sharing nursery rhymes, action songs and simple percussion music. It brings a fun element to the council’s work with pre-school children. This is a vital service, especially to small children because it helps them to develop motor neuron skills and build their vocabulary.

Katya Davis, mother of one year Ciara, from Highbury New Park, said: “Both of us love coming here; this is a great half an hour. We sing, play and relax but most importantly it gives my little treasure a chance to socialize with other small people and that’s amazing to see how beneficial it is to them.”

Adenike Johnson, senior children’s librarian from Islington Central Library said: “The key things for us are to keep the babies and parents in contact with books, and other resources we have. A lot of people don’t think you should introduce books to children until they start school, this could be very problematic, as it gives them a lot of disadvantages and they find it hard to catch up. So that’s something that we try to integrate and incorporate into the sessions: that the books are important for babies.”

The sessions are very popular, even though it’s a relatively new phenomenon; research has shown that being around books and other babies has tons of benefits, not only for children but also for the parents. Especially if their families are not living close by, some people can feel quite isolated. Joining Baby Bounce and Rhyme allows adults to be part of a community and find out about other activities that are happening in the local area. It also allows access to the other services that the library provides such as free Internet.

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