Bookstart Japan

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Programme name Country Date of this information
Bookstart Japan 1st July 2019
Question Answer
About the Organisation  
Organisation name Bookstart Japan
Organisation address 3F Kakuta Building, 5-19 Shin Ogawamachi, Shinjyuku-ku, Tokyo, 162-0814, Japan
Goal/objective Create a society where every baby is spoken words of affection while sharing books and lives a happy life.
Contact Person Izumi Satou
Position of Contact Person Project Manager of Global Networking
Organisation website
Organisation type A national organisation set up for the purpose of running the programme.
How many staff does your organisation employ? 15  
About the Programme  
Basic details  
Programme name Bookstart
Country/Province/City where the programme takes place Japan
Year started 2000
Funding sources It depends on each local authority. They fund their programme with the budget from library service, family support, health service etc.
Geographic coverage National. 60% of all local authorities run the programme with Bookstart Japan as of May 2019. It reaches about 80%, if other universal baby book-gifting programmes are included. 
Purpose of the programme  
Not for profit? The programme is not for profit.
Religious or political purpose? None
Local consistency of model  
Is your programme model consistent across your geographic area, or are there regional differences? Not consistent   Local authorities who wish to run Bookstart budget their programme and form a steering group consisting of library service, health department, family support department and local volunteers etc and design their programme.   They consider the funding source, the target, the timing and at what opportunity Bookstart is held, who delivers the packs, the contents of the packs, how they deliver them etc.  
Among local authorities, we have ‘Five important Points of Bookstart’ to share. 1. The aim ( see above). 2. It is universal. 3. It is delivered at an opportunity where every baby born in the area is targeted, such as group health check or immunisation etc. 4. It values quality delivery, including demonstrating how to share books with babies. 5. It is run as a local public service in partnership with local departments and volunteers.
Book Packs  
What are the contents of your gifting pack? Each local authority considers the contents of the pack according to their budget.   The pack contains at least one baby book and may include Bookstart Advice Booklet, Baby-book list, Library registration card, Local information on family support.   They are packed in a cotton bag or a paper envelope.   Each local authority chooses the title(s) of the baby book in the pack from ‘Bookstart Baby Books’ which are regularly selected by an independent book selection committee of Bookstart Japan.   The support of publishers enables Bookstart Japan to provide those books to local authorities at a special price.
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? It depends on who chairs the steering group in the local authority.
Who gifts/hands-out your pack to families?   It depends on each local authority.   In most programmes, librarians or/and volunteers hand-out the packs.
Other programme partnerships Bookstart Japan is supported by corporate and individual members.   As a financially independent administrator of the national Bookstart programme, we do not have a specific partnership with any other organisation or government department.   We have information sharing relationships with ‘Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology’, ‘Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare’ and some library/reading promotion/health professional organisations etc.
Use of volunteers It depends on each local authority whether they use volunteers and what they do.   In many programmes, they are a part of the steering group. They may be existing local reading-aloud group members, former childcare workers, children’s social worker and/or newly recruited and trained people for the programme.   The local authority organises the training sessions for the volunteers, professionals and local government officials who are involved in the programme.  
Volunteers assemble the packs, prepare the venue, demonstrate sharing books while delivering packs to the families. They also organise baby rhyme time at local libraries and community centres as follow-up programmes of Bookstart.
Is the programme universal or targeted? Universal within the local authority which runs the programme.
How many children does your programme serve a year? About 500,000 babies in 2018.
At what age/gifting period do children receive your programme.   It depends on each local authority.   96% of the programmes gift the packs before babies turn one year old.
Diversity provision  
Does your program include provisions or resources for children with special needs? We include special provisions for parents with special needs.   We offer a braille/enlarged character version of ‘Bookstart Introduction Sheet’ and a braille version of ‘Bookstart Advice Booklet’ for visually impaired parents. We also offer baby books with braille for visually impaired parents to enjoy sharing books with their baby.
What language populations does your programme serve? 98% of the population in Japan speak Japanese and 2% speak other languages.   ‘Bookstart Introduction Sheet’ is available in 11 languages and explains the programme and about sharing books with babies. (Chinese, English, Hindi, Indonesian, Korean, Nepali, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai, Tagalog and Vietnamese – popular languages spoken by foreign residents in Japan)   ‘Bookstart Advice Booklet’ is available in 8 languages (Chinese, English, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai, Tagalog and Vietnamese).   We have also produced ‘Baby Book Contents Introduction Sheet’ for each title in the pack which explains the contents of the books and how to pronounce the Japanese writing. It is available in the same 8 languages as above.
Evaluation and research  
Have you conducted programme evaluation or research (including longitudinal)? If yes, has this evaluation/research been published?  We researched the pilot study in 2000.   We conducted another research in 2011-2012 and published “ Research report on what Bookstart brings about” in 2014. It is only available in Japanese.


Videos and Powerpoints

May 2021 – Health and Wellbeing

Izumi Satou: Bookstart Japan

March 2021 – Additional Needs

Izumi Satou: Bookstart Japan

12 September 2019 meeting – Using volunteers, and community invigoration

Izumi Satou: Bookstart Japan – Working with volunteers and community invigoration

11 June 2019 launch meetingMultilingual provision and Diversity

Izumi Satou: Bookstart Japan – ‘Bookstart in Japan: Support for non Japanese Speakers’

28 March 2019 Trial Meeting

Izumi Satou: ‘Bookstart in Japan: A sustainable structure for self motivated programmes.’

Sept 2019 – Using volunteers, and community invigoration

June 2019 – Multilingual provision and Diversity

March 2019 – Trial meetings