Boekstart, Stichting Lezen, Dutch Reading Foundation

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Programme name Country Date of information
  Boekstart   Netherlands   June 2019

Question Answer
About the Organisation  
Organisation name Stichting Lezen
Organisation address Nieuwe Prinsengracht 89 1018 VR Amsterdam The Netherlands
Goal/objective The objective of Stichting Lezen is to promote the pleasure in reading, both in Dutch and Friesian (Netherlands’ second official language). The foundation coordinates existing activities and encourages the development of new and innovative initiatives, methods and tools that are instrumental in reading promotion. This includes the promotion of scientific research in this specialist field.
Contact Person Marijke Bos
Position of Contact Person Project leader
Contact email  
Contact Telephone Number  
Organisation website (for parents) (for professionals)
Organisation type National reading promotion organization
How many staff does your organisation employ? 20 of which 5 work on BoekStart on a daily basis.
About the Programme  
Basic details  
Programme name BoekStart
Country/Province/City where the programme takes place The Netherlands
Year started 2008-2009
Programme goal/objective Inspired by the British BookStart programme (Wade & Moore, 2000, 2003), the Dutch BookStart promotes early reading, storytelling and singing nursery rhymes to very young children. It also enables parents and children to experience the pleasure of reading books together. It gives young children a better start in primary school and strengthens the bond between parents and children. Working with libraries, health centres, day care centres, publishers and other partners, BoekStart (Dutch name) encourages parents across the Netherlands to start reading with their baby and toddler.   Bookstart in the Netherlands consists of the bookgifting part for baby’s and a program for daycare centres.  
Quality in the implementation of BookStart in daycare is determined by six elements:
• an attractive reading spot, created together with the library
• a high quality collection of books for babies and toddlers (including ebooks)
• increased expertise of staff through training
• active parental involvement, resulting in more frequent storybook reading at home and familiarity with the opportunities offered by the library
• reading aloud as a daily routine through the establishment of a Reading Plan which outlines the agency’s policy
• cooperation with local partners in a reading promotion network (local municipality, healthcare, library and daycare centres).   80% of de library organizations work with BoekStart in daycares and 24% of the daycare centers.
Funding sources Government funded
Geographic coverage Covering the Netherlands 98% of the libraries participate
Purpose of the programme  
Not for profit? Non- profit
Religious or political purpose? none
Local consistency of model  
Is your programme model consistent across your geographic area, or are there regional differences? Consistent  
Book Packs  
What are the contents of your gifting pack? Parents recieve a small suitcase containing two baby books (soft/ fabric and cardboard), information on reading aloud together and a membership of the public library.
Is your programme offered free of charge to all families? yes
Partnerships and Delivery  
What are your primary ‘points of contact’ with the population you serve? (i.e your local programme partners.) Library, Health clinic, Municipality
Who gifts/hands-out your pack to families?   Librarians  
Does your programme uses volunteers?   No
Is the programme universal or targeted? The programme is universal with special attention to reach targeted parents like low literate families.
How many children does your programme serve a year? 67.500 40% of the babies
At what age/gifting period do children receive your programme?   One package within the ages 3-18 months  
Diversity provision  
Does your program include provisions or resources for children with special needs? yes, recently we have a special pack for blind children.  
What language populations does your programme serve? We have brochures in the following languages; English, Arabic, Turkish, Polish, Spanish, French and Mandarin
Evaluation and research  
Have you conducted programme evaluation or research (including longitudinal)? If yes, has this evaluation/research been published? 

Scientific research into the effects of the Dutch BookStart programme (Van den Berg & Bus, 2015) has shown that:
• participating parents are more likely to start reading to their children at an early age
• children’s language skills improve if parents start reading to their babies before the age of eight months
• the effects of BookStart are even stronger in the longer term
• overactive babies benefit most from the programme
• participating parents visit the library more often and are more familiar with baby books.  

In June 2020 a meta-analysis on Bookgifting programs was published, to which the researcher Merel de Bondt, who is also researching the longer-term effects of the Dutch BookStart, contributed.


Videos and Powerpoints

Sept 2022 -Digital media & storybooks for young children – resources, opportunities and challenges

Marijke Bos: Dutch Reading Foundation, Stichting Lezen, Netherlands

17 May 2022 – Research updates on programmes

Marijke Bos and Jette van den Eijnden: Dutch Reading Foundation, Stichting Lezen, Netherlands

20 November 2019 meeting – Best practice quality bookgifting

Marijke Bos: Boekstart Netherlands, Dutch Reading Foundation (Stichting Lezen) – ‘Improving the quality of bookgifting.’

Nov 2019 – Best practice quality bookgifting

21 March 2019 Trial Meeting

Marijke Bos: ‘Boekstart in the Netherlands, Growth and development of an established programme’

March 2019 – Trial meetings