The Polish Book Institute’s Small Book — Great Person campaign reminds us of the benefits of reading together as a family, right from the first months of a child’s life. It has been devised to complement the Bookstart programme, in which young parents are presented with a Reading Layette while still in the maternity ward. We believe that reading begins from the cradle, long before children begin to independently put letters together. Well-chosen books develop their minds and emotions, shape their linguistic competence, root them in culture and stimulate their imagination. The Reading Layette consists of a selection of poems for children and a brochure, which shows parents the incalculably important role that reading plays in a child’s development. Our aim is to convince parents that reading together can be not just a great pleasure, but above all a wonderful opportunity to build intimacy and strong, lasting family connections.
The next step of our campaign is dedicated to children about to begin their pre-school education (3-6 years old). Its aim is to encourage parents to visit libraries frequently and read with their children on a daily basis. Every child who comes to a library participating in the project receives, as a gift, a Reading Layette, which includes the book and a Little Reader’s Card. Each time the Little Reader visits the library and borrows at least one book from the children’s collection, they receive a sticker. After collecting ten of these, they presented with a personalised certificate in confirmation of their reading accomplishments. Pre-schoolers can borrow books from more than 6,700 libraries across the country.
The third stage of our Bookstart project is targeted at children starting primary school. Since 2020, every pupil beginning first grade (380,000 every year) has received a book, which is our invitation to children to learn to read independently, and the brochure for parents. Encourage teachers to present books ceremoniously, for example, during the students’ first visit to the school library.
Thus far, 5,000,000 Reading Layettes for new-borns, pre-schoolers and pupils have been distributed under the programme.
The Small Book — Great Person also has a ‘social’ element whereby it is present on television, radio, and the Internet, and organises many live events for children and parents, with an annual reach of twenty million Poles. For parents, librarians, and teachers, we prepare numerous educational materials, book recommendations, and tips on how to ignite a love for reading in children.
The Small Book — Great Person initiative is funded by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland.
We regularly conduct evaluations of our activities. Here are the key findings:
Assessment of the Reading Layette and project for newborns
- 94% of parents who received a book read it to their child.
- The informational brochure was read by over 71% of respondents.
- Parents consider themselves as guides for their children in the literary world.
- 59% of respondents read a book from the the Reading Layette within the first 6 months of their child’s life.
- Furthermore, over half of the respondents remembered texts from their own childhood.
- Many respondents pointed out the therapeutic aspect of reading.
- For nearly 2/3 of the respondents, the book served as an inspiration to explore other texts.
Evaluation of the projects for pre-schoolers in public libraries
- 72% of children participating in the project are new readers (enrolled in libraries for the first time thanks to the project).
- 36% of children who received the book earn a diploma within four months of the project’s launch (they visit the library at least 10 times).