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Posted by Kate, June 10, 2015

Every reception-aged child in England and Wales will get a copy of Open Very Carefully

Gosh, we’re proud.

Open Very Carefully by Nicola O’Byrne with words by Nick Bromley has been chosen by Book Trust as the book that will be given to every reception-aged child in England and Wales in the course of the next school year, as part of the Booktime programme.

Open Very Carefully | Nicola O'Byrne and Nick Bromley

When you think of the rigour the panel has to bring to this choice – it has to be a great, engaging book, it has to work for children with a range of reading and other abilities, it has to work for children from a wide range of cultures and who use different languages – and the huge choice of books that the panel had (the book doesn’t have to be new), it’s absolutely remarkable that this debut picture book made its way through the selection process.

Diana Gerald, Chief Executive of Book Trust, said, “Open Very Carefully is a lovely book for families to share and discuss how words and pictures work and we are delighted to include it in this year’s Booktime pack.

“The Booktime programme is a fantastic way to support reading in the home and encourages parents and carers to share books with their children. We know that books help open children’s eyes, minds and hearts to different people and situations, and research also proves that children who love reading do better at school in all subjects. Best of all, reading together helps to build a strong and loving relationship with your child.”

That it’s a great book to share at home is suggested by the lovely video in this blog post made by a mum and her daughter, in which they talk about Open Very Carefully as a favourite book.

There’s real scope for using it the book in the classroom too, as this guest blog post by a primary school teacher indicates. Among other things, she encouraged children to feed cut-out letters to the crocodile.

Open Very Carefully won the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and the Stockport Children’s Picture Book Award, was shortlisted for a number of other awards, and was named by the Sunday Times as one of the 100 best children’s books.

The book has been published in 13 languages other than English, and has reprinted many times.

Despite all of its success, Open Very Carefully did not have the easiest genesis, actually, as I described in this blog post. If ever there was an incentive to push and push to make a book the best it can be, the idea that it might end up in the hands of so many children has to be one of the best!

More than 700,000 copies of Open Very Carefully will be gifted through the Booktime scheme – which celebrates its tenth anniversary – with children aged 4-5 years in England and Wales receiving a free copy of Open Very Carefully to share and enjoy with their family and friends.

The Booktime pack also provides guidance for parents on reading with their child at an important transition stage in their learning and development

As well as the Booktime packs going out to reception pupils, 1,500 public libraries across England will also receive enhanced Booktime library packs to support storytelling sessions and school engagement. The Booktime programme is then further supported by a range of resources and games for parents, children, teachers and librarians at www.booktime.org.uk

Thanks to the Book Trust Booktime scheme for making this book accessible to so many more children.