Nine millionth book to be gifted to encourage children to develop a lifelong love of reading

Actress Tamsin Greig launches Booktime 2012 with the help of schoolchildren and some furry friends

There is a saying in showbusiness that you should never work with animals and children but today (13 November 2012) actress Tamsin Greig will do exactly that!

As part of the national launch of Booktime 2012, the award-winning free books programme for reception-aged children in England and Wales, Tamsin - who is most recently famous for her role in BBC2's Episodes series - will read the story book The Tale of a Naughty Little Rabbit to pupils at The Cathedral School of St Saviour and St Mary Overy primary school in Southwark, London.

As well as 30 primary school children, Tamsin will be joined by some furry friends from Animal Magic Mobile Zoo and honorary guest, Peter Rabbit.

This year, over 1.45 million books will be gifted to 731,000 children in their first year of school through Booktime, which aims to inspire a lifelong love of reading by encouraging families to have fun reading together. Each free book pack is a timely reminder of the continuing importance of sharing stories with children even when they have started school. Children in England will receive their book packs this autumn term, containing The Tale of a Naughty Little Rabbit, published by Frederick Warne &Co., an imprint of Penguin Children's, and Tim's Din, from the Phonics Bug series by Pearson.

In the spring of 2013 children in reception class in Wales, starting their journey through the Foundation Phase, will receive their own Amser Llyfr /Booktime book packs. The free books for four to five year olds in Wales are The Tale of a Naughty Little Rabbit and Tŷ Bach Twt i Miss Trwyn Smwt, by Petr Horáček. The specially commissioned Welsh edition of Horáček's picture book is published by Rily and has been adapted by poet Mererid Hopwood. With the support of the Welsh Government, this will be the first time the free books programme has delivered books to every four to five year old in maintained schools in Wales. The programme will support one of the Welsh Government's key priorities of raising literacy standards in Wales.

Author Jim Trelease has written extensively about the importance of shared reading in his best-selling book, The Read Aloud Handbook. He says: "Reading aloud is pouring sounds, syllables, endings and blendings that make up words-right into the child's ear. Inside the ear rests the 'listening vocabulary', a part of the brain where we store language. If you pour enough words into the listening vocabulary, it spills into the other three vocabulary pools: speaking, reading, and writing. And that explains why the children who have heard the most words succeed the most in school."

Trelease cites American research that shows a 32 million word difference of children who have been read with versus those who have not and says that this translates into a full year's advantage at school.1

He sums up: "The parent who reads to a child is really taking that child on a guided tour of the places, events, and people beyond the limits of their own home. The bond that grows between the parent and child on these guided tours lasts a lifetime. Regardless of income level, reading families travel first class beyond their home."

Tamsin Greig, mum of three children aged between eight and 13 years old, says: "A passion for reading is one of the greatest gifts that you can give a child. Books open doors to new worlds as well as explain the world we live in."

She continues: "I have loved sharing books with my children as it is so much fun - a time for closeness, laughing and talking together. They are now very eager independent readers, and keen to talk about the books they are reading themselves."

"Books that I remember very fondly are Where the Wild Things Are, the Dr Seuss books, The Magic Faraway Tree, and a special illustrated version of The Shoemaker and the Elves. With my own children, we have loved all the Dr Seuss books, especially Oh, The Places You'll Go!, Where the Wild Things Are, and the Narnia books."

The award-winning Booktime programme is now in its seventh year and has gifted more than nine million books since it was launched in 2006.

Peter Hughes, head of corporate responsibility at Pearson, said: "As the world's leading learning company, we want children to learn to read in a way that makes them want to carry on reading all their lives. But we know that many children don't have sufficient access to books, let alone the privilege of owning them.

"The gift of the Booktime books will provide another way for families, teachers, librarians across England and now Wales as well as the Pearson Booktime volunteers to help kickstart a love of reading, which has to be one of the best starts you can give a child in life."

Viv Bird, Chief Executive of Booktrust, adds: "Delivered by Booktrust in partnership with Pearson, Booktime gives free books to children starting school, making it fun and easy for parents and children to continue to make time to read and share stories together in the home. The stories are carefully chosen to encourage reading aloud and support for the child as they take their first steps to learn the skills of reading. Our grateful thanks to Pearson, whose continued commitment has enabled Booktime to gift nine million fabulous books to children over the last seven years."

Booktime will be supported by a range of downloads and games on the website: and can be followed on twitter @BooktimeTweets and Facebook

As well as benefitting from the Booktime programme for children in reception, schools in England can now sign up for Read for My School to encourage their Year 5 and 6 pupils to read for pleasure. Read for My School is the brand new national schools reading competition from The Pearson Foundation and Booktrust, with support from the Department for Education. The programme is free to all primary schools in England and will give children aged nine to 11 the opportunity to read their way to rewards for themselves and their schools. Reading for pleasure is at the heart of the initiative, which aims to generate excitement about books and cultivate long-lasting positive attitudes towards reading. Schools can find out more and sign up for the free programme at

For further information on the Booktime programme, photography, and to request interviews please contact:

Maria Boyle on or 0208 876 8444 / 0 788 764 7855 OR
Alice Ingall on or 020 8875 4827 OR
Peter Hughes on or 020 7010 2249

About the books

The Tale of a Naughty Little Rabbit is a playful and funny retelling of Beatrix Potter's original story The Tale of Peter Rabbit. It is a special anniversary edition to mark 110 years since Frederick Warne first published the original tale. Through Booktime, this lovely picture book will introduce a new generation of readers to the escapades of Britain's most famous rabbit. Families all over England and Wales will be joining in with Peter Rabbit's 110th birthday celebrations by sharing this very special story.

In England, Booktime packs will also contain a book for children to support them on their reading journey, from Pearson. Tim's Din, written by Monica Hughes and illustrated by Bill Ledger, is a lively and entertaining story about the mischief that little monkeys can get up to when they're bored. With simple rhyming text and expressive illustrations, Tim's Din gives children the chance to try telling a fun and simple story themselves.

About Booktime

Booktime is run by Booktrust, the independent charity which empowers people through reading and writing, and Pearson, the world's leading learning company. The programme was launched in 2006 by Pearson in partnership with Booktrust. Booktime aims to inspire a lifelong love of reading by encouraging families to have fun reading together.

The programme supports, encourages and enables reading for pleasure in the home at an important transition stage in a child's learning and development. Book packs have included titles from a long list of much-loved children's writers and illustrators: Lynley Dodd, Janet and Allan Ahlberg, Ian Whybrow, Adrian Reynolds, June Crebbin, Ed Vere, Geraldine Taylor, Amy Schimler, Eric Carle, Monica Hughes and Claudia Lloyd. See

In 2012, Booktime won Lord Mayor's Dragon Award for Education 2012, recognising Community Engagement in London.

About Pearson

Pearson is the world's leading learning company. Its major businesses are: Pearson, the world's biggest education business, providing print and digital learning materials and services used by more than 100 million students of all ages every year; The Financial Times Group, which has an international network of business and financial newspapers and online services that are read by millions of business executives and investors every day; and Penguin Group, which is one of the pre-eminent names in consumer publishing, with an unrivalled range of fiction and non-fiction, bestsellers, and classic titles. Through its books, newspapers and online products and services, Pearson helps people of all ages to live and learn.

Since the Booktime programme began, Pearson's UK staff have been giving their time to read with children in local primary schools through its Booktime Volunteer Reading Scheme. For the academic year 2011-2012, 202 volunteers spent 3,290.75 hours (the equivalent of 470 working days) reading with children.

In October, Pearson launched its 'Enjoy Reading' campaign designed to inspire more children to develop an early lifelong love of reading, taking advantage of children's interest in being online. A new national reading competition for schools, a new Enjoy Reading hub for parents, thousands of free books for children and innovative new ways to inspire more children to read for pleasure both on- and offline are all ways in which the campaign will help more children love reading. See here.

About Booktrust

Booktrust is an independent reading and writing charity that makes a nationwide impact on individuals, families and communities, and culture in the UK. Booktrust makes a significant positive contribution to the educational outcomes of children from the earliest age. We work to empower people of all ages and abilities by giving them confidence and choices about reading. And we want individuals of all backgrounds to benefit from the wellbeing that a rich and positive engagement in reading and writing can bring.

Booktrust is responsible for a number of successful national reading promotions, sponsored book prizes and creative reading projects aimed at encouraging readers to discover and enjoy books. These include the Roald Dahl Funny Prize, the Children's Laureate, and Bookstart, the national programme that works through locally based organisations to give a free pack of books to babies and toddlers, with guidance materials for parents and carers. See

About Penguin Children's

The Tale of Peter Rabbit is published by Frederick Warne, an imprint of Penguin Children's. Penguin Children's won Children's Publisher of the Year at the Bookseller Industry Awards 2011. It comprises the following imprints: Ladybird, Frederick Warne, Sunbird, Puffin and Razorbill.

2012 marks the 110th anniversary of Peter Rabbit. The inclusion of The Tale of a Naughty Little Rabbit in this year's Booktime pack is a highlight of a year-long celebration of the anniversary. Other elements of the year have included special anniversary publishing and the September publication of the brand new 24th tale: The Further Tale of Peter Rabbit by Oscar-winning actress and screen writer Emma Thompson.

Most recently, a brand new CGI animated series, was announced. Peter Rabbit will air later this year on CBeebies. The series, from Penguin, Silvergate Media and Nickelodeon US, will preview with a special one-off Christmas episode in December 2012 with 52 11-minute episodes following in spring 2013.

About Peter Rabbit

  • The Tale of Peter Rabbit, written and illustrated by Beatrix Potter, was first published by Frederick Warne in 1902.
  • The World of Beatrix Potter™, initiated by Potter herself, is now one of the world's longest running and largest international literature-based licensing programmes with more than 350 licensees worldwide.
  • The Tale of Peter Rabbit has never been out of print since it was first published.
  • attracts more 50,000 unique visitors per month.

1 Author Jim Trelease in The Read Aloud Handbook comments on U.S. studies on the vocabularies of incoming new school children. Studies showed that children in higher income households had heard an average of 32 million words more than children from households with lower incomes, a number that translates into a full year's advantage in education. The research found that children in higher income households heard not only more words from their parents but lots more from the pages of books that filled their lives as well.