To the libraries with the kids! “First Readings for…” a preschooler - a new programme of the Book Institute

Each preschooler who comes to the library with their parent will receive a gift of a unique book Pierwsze czytanki dla… ("First Readings for..."), specially prepared by the Book Institute. In more than 5200 libraries all over Poland, 300,000 unique ‘reading layettes’ are waiting for them. This is the next stage of the great project "Small book - Great Man". Until now, books have been given to young parents in hospital maternity wards, and now the reading layettes will be given to preschoolers. The 19 million Zloty programme is financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage as part of the National Programme for the Development of Reading.

Invitation of preschoolers to libraries is a development of the programme conducted since 2017. It was then that the Book Institute began distributing reading layettes for newborns in hospitals. By mid-2019, about 600,000 books had been distributed. Now, the libraries participating in the programme offer a unique gift for young readers - the book "First Readings for...", tailored in terms of form and content to the needs of a preschooler and meeting the highest standards in designing beautiful and wise books for the youngest.

A carefully selected collection of works by outstanding Polish poets and children's writers includes both classical and contemporary works. The authors include, inter alia, Joanna Papuzińska, Wanda Chotomska, Czesław Janczarskim, and Hanna Januszewska. The publication also features Liliana Bardijewska, Zofia Stanecka, Anna Onichimowska, Małgorzata Strzałkowska, Adam Bahdaj, Michał Rusinek, Agnieszka Frączek, Joanna Kulmowa, Marcin Brykczyński, Jan Twardowski, and Grzegorz Kasdepke – authors as different as the perspectives of looking at the world are - inexhaustible, yet attractive and stimulating for a child’s curiosity. The whole has been enriched with excellent illustrations by the artist Józef Wilkoń.

In the layettes, children will also receive a Little Reader's Card. For each visit to the library, the Little Reader will receive a sticker, and, after having collected ten of them, they will be honoured with a personal certificate confirming their reading interests. Parents and guardians will also find something for themselves in the layette: a booklet Książką połączeni, czyli przedszkolak idzie do biblioteki (“Connected by a Book: a Preschooler Goes to the Library”) will remind them of the invaluable role that reading plays in their child's development and the benefits of frequent visits to the library.

The aim of the programme "Small Book – Great Man" is to improve the state of reading in Poland through coordinated, long-term activities aimed at promoting and educating readers as well as shaping the habit of interacting with books from an early age. The project aims to encourage parents to visit libraries, which, today, in addition to providing access to book collections, also serve as modern cultural centres. This is possible thanks to Priority 2 "Library Infrastructure 2016-2020", run by the Book Institute as part of the National Programme for the Development of Reading. The state budget allocated 170 million PLN for its implementation, which allowed the construction, renovation, or equipping of more than 220 libraries.

"These activities are of a comprehensive nature and are necessary for the readership in Poland not only to bring about significant, but above all permanent changes," says Prof. Piotr Gliński, Minister of Culture and National Heritage. He stresses that what makes the project particularly important is its targeting of the youngest group of Poles - children from the first moments of their lives up to school age, as well as its continuous character. The fact that this is not a one-off measure is extremely important. The basic value of the project is its multi-stage character and constant support for the readership development of the child from their birth, through the preschool period, until the first years of school education, when the young reader enters reading culture on a permanent basis, we can hope. "Books, tailored to each stage, splendidly illustrated, "grow" with the young reader and help them not only to develop their reading skills, but also to get acquainted with the most important environments and spaces of the book: home, library, and school," says the Minister of Culture.

Prof. Piotr Gliński points out that the "Small Book - Great Man" programme teaches a new generation of Poles that time spent with a book is interesting, valuable, and a great way to spend it. At the same time, it engages parents, grandparents, and older siblings in reading together. Apart from the obvious benefits of this form of spending time together, building closeness as well as family and intergenerational bonds, reading together from the first days of a child's life has an important educational value. "For years now, both domestic research, conducted by the National Library, and global research have been clearly showing that parents who read lead to children who read,” says Prof. Gliński.

In autumn, the campaign's message will be enhanced by a TV and radio campaign and promotion on the Internet and social media with the participation of a couple, actors Tamara Arciuch and Bartłomiej Kasprzykowski, privately parents, who consciously raise their children in the spirit of a love for books. At the same time, thanks to the display of information on outdoor media, the campaign will be visible in public spaces in many Polish cities. The website is also active, as well as a thriving Facebook group.

The full list of participating libraries is available at