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Welcome to Buchstart
Books for everyone - from the very start!
Buchstart is a project which aims to promote early childhood literacy. We feel that every kid in Hamburg should discover, as early as possible, how much fun books are. With free Buchstart Bags and events which will take place all across the city we intend to encourage parents and other educators to instill in their children a lasting love for books - a present for life. Browse our website for practical information, tips and ideas on "Books for infants and toddlers". Buchstart is still a very young project. As we intend to grow smart we do welcome your hints and ideas. All of you can help spread the news about Buchstart in Hamburg. Would you like to suggest a book, contribute a nursery rhyme or a finger game? Are you looking for an event, are you interested in a certain subject? Or would you like to support Buchstart as a volunteer? Get in touch with us! Let us know what you think. Give us your feedback, your questions, comments, hints and ideas.
And have fun with our website and our books!
Your Buchstart Team

What is Buchstart?
With Buchstart the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg offers all of the city's one-year-olds access to the future. Children who grow up with books from the very beginning are at an advantage. If they learn early how much fun there is in pictures and stories, they will enjoy reading and learning for the rest of their lives. It is up to grown-ups to encourage kids early on and to pave their way towards an education. Buchstart supports parents and other educators by offering teaching materials along with practical advice. Beginning in February 2007, pediatricians all across Hamburg will give out the Buchstart Bags in connection with the U6 health check. Packed with picture books and plenty of useful tips for parents, the bags provide just the right equipment to simply step into the adventure of "book sharing". The only thing parents need to add every day is a half-hour of book time. "Gedichte für Wichte" will be the motto of the events which Buchstart organises for kids under three and which will start in various parts of Hamburg in April. These open parent and children groups shall focus on picture books and spoken language. Funny songs, rhymes, finger and other games will playfully introduce the little ones to the world of language and first pictures and will provide a variety of parent tips on how to make books part of everyday life.
Buchstart: Books for everyone. From the very start!

Dear parents in Hamburg,
is there anything more enjoyable than books? Books are handy, lasting and available everywhere. Wonderful surprises await you between their covers: pictures, stories and thoughts of people from all times and places. Each book is an invitation into a new world, a source of joy, of imagination and inspiration. Without books our lives would lack so much. That is why I find it particularly important to help our children, at an early age already, find their way into the world of pictures and language. The love of books is one of the greatest gifts we can give our children. And if you have ever looked at a picture book together with a child, if you have laughed and talked about the story and its pictures, you will know how precious this book time spent together is, both for the adult and for the child. The Buchstart project would like to invite you to give books in your and your children's lives the value and importance they deserve. I wish all of you, old and young, many lively, happy and exciting reading hours!
Message of greeting by Prof. Dr. Karin von Welck, Senator for Culture and Education of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg

Sharing books with babies?

by Kirsten Boie

"What a crazy idea! Babies can't even talk yet! They wouldn't understand one bit!" Yes they would! And this is exactly the right time. Babies do enjoy looking at books together with an adult they love: sitting on one's lap, cuddling, they bring about a very special experience of closeness for both, not just for the baby. Half an hour per day, possibly at the same time every day, reliable and cosy: book babies will, for the rest of their lives, associate this sense of joy, attention and comfort with books. For book babies, as they grow up, books will continue to be a source of pleasure rather than frightening learning tools. At school this attitude allows them an easier and more joyful approach to learning. Research in many countries has shown that.

With books we give our children a better start in life. Take just thirty book minutes per day and see how much book babies learn incidentally. They start talking earlier, they have more fun doing it, and they keep their linguistic advantage for the rest of their lives. Also, they gradually learn to better concentrate on things - another important skill for future success, not just in school. At first, of course, they do not just sit still to listen to the entire story quietly. Babies want to point at the pictures and they want to hear the person who reads to them name things: "Yes, exactly, that's a cat! What does the cat say?" Babies want to join in and determine which page you both look at and how frequently you do it. Babies show their grown-ups what is fun. While looking at books, onehas to watch them, as always, to see what they need.

Laughing and fooling around are part of the story. Nobody knows better than the babies themselves what theyalready understand and which developmental step to take next. And that step is different for every child. So they may interrupt at any time, to browse forwards or backwards, or even to bite into the cardboard pages. Gradually every child will realise that a book tells a story, and gradually every child will want to hear that story. Not at the very start, however. At the beginning, things will go back and forth, a thousand questions need answering, you may laugh and fool around a lot, and many a child will invent his or her own story to go with the pictures. Most of all, looking at books is meant to be fun for both parents and children, old and young alike. Learn best by having fun!

Fun with books for children aged between 0 and 3. So how do we best share books with babies and toddlers? Babies learn with all their senses. They want to grab a book, hold it up, bite it. They do not want to hear a complete story read to them yet, but they love familiar voices, rhymes, songs, finger plays and knee riders. And they love endless repetitions because they enjoy recognising things. So we do not need to be constantly creative! Try out the rhymes and finger plays in our brochure then! You will surely find your baby's favourite rhyme among them.

Aged between one and two ... they still enjoy the same things. Yet now they also like listening to little stories in which they appear along with familiar things from their daily lives: getting up, bathing, eating, changing diapers, going shopping. They are thrilled to hear us imitate animal voices and insert funny and expressive words like boom!!! and crash!!! and smash!!! and whatever else comes to mind. Kids love any kind of nonsense. While we read to them they may turn the pages because they are big now and know how to do that, carefully, carefully. And they want to join in and participate while looking at books. They want us to ask them: "Oh dear, who is that, hiding under the table over there?" And they can tell us.

At about three years of age ... the above still applies. But now kids understand quite a lot already and they feel like listening for longer spans of time. Now they want to decide which story they want to hear and which book they want to look at. They enjoy nonsense stories and animal stories and stories with crazy things happening, unreal things. Yet the stories should not be too exciting and they should end happily, by all means. Stories always have a happy ending: That gives children reason to hope that it will be the same in reality. By regularly sharing books with your children you give them an irreplaceable gift that will last all their lives. Not only does the time spent looking at books together mean security and fun; not only will book kids learn more easily but they will also, for the rest of their lives and in every situation, know which source to turn to for fun and excitement and comfort. That is why we should give ourselves and our children the gift of this daily half-hour.
   
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