The Book Institute’s Reading Layettes received by children in Dundee, Scotland

Our Reading Layettes, which as part of the social campaign "Small Book - Great Man" are given to newborn children in Poland, as well as three-year-olds visiting libraries participating in the project. Now, they will also reach Polish-speaking children in Scottish Dundee. We hope that the book "First poems for..." will awaken love for Polish literature, and the attached brochure Książką połączeni, czyli o roli czytania w życiu dziecka (“Connected by a Book: the Role of Reading in a Child's Life”) will be a helpful guide for parents in developing a passion for reading among the youngest.

The promotion of reading among the youngest is a government priority in Scotland. Children are given kits with books and CDs in English when they are born, and then, when they are one, three, and then five years old. Free English classes with reading aloud, learning songs and poems for children are regularly held in libraries.

How does contact with Polish literature measure up? Parents of Polish-speaking children living abroad know that children need support in learning their mother tongue as an inherited language. To ensure that the youngest children have contact with Polish language and culture, Dundee families meet weekly for free Polish Bookbug classes, which follow the Scottish model of library meetings.

Classes with bilingual children have their own specificity. There is a lot of singing during the meetings, including Polish versions of popular English songs. Animators use gestures, movement, puppets, and other objects to illustrate the concepts from songs, poems, and readings as well as possible, trying to give children the opportunity to understand the leitmotif of the lesson through traditional games, artwork, and experiments.

The library in Dundee is visited by children of all ages, from infants to those who have started their schooling. There are families with both parents speaking Polish, mixed, and those who are just beginning to learn Polish.

Finding Polish books for the youngest is a challenge. The offerings of Dundee's public library network are rich, but almost exclusively in English, and the cost of delivering books from Poland can be a deterrent. It is not uncommon that the books are read in English and then translated into Polish by the organisers during classes.

The joy of Polish-speaking families was even greater when they were able to participate in the "Small Book - Great Man” campaign. Thanks to the support of the Book Institute and the Consulate of the Republic of Poland in Edinburgh, Dundee received books for the youngest children and brochures about the benefits of reading for children. The books were a great joy for the whole family. Parents can still receive Reading Layettes in Polish Bookbug classes, at all libraries in Dundee, and some from health visitors visiting families with young children.