A Cluster Randomised Controlled Trial of “Bookstart+”: A Book Gifting Programme

Liam O'Hare, Paul Connolly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the effectiveness of a free book gifting programme, called “Bookstart+”, in improving family reading outcomes.

Bookstart+ consists of a pack of books and reading materials provided to families at their two-year-old child's statutory health visit. The pack is accompanied by a short priming demonstration, delivered by the health visitor, on shared reading. The evaluation took the form of a randomised controlled trial (RCT) with 460 families from the client lists of 115 health visitors.

The study found evidence of: a positive significant effect on parents’ attitudes to reading and books (Cohen's d=+0.192, p=0.034); no significant effect on parental attitudes to their child reading (d=+0.085, p=0.279); and a negative effect, approaching significance, on public library usage (d=-0.160, p=0.055).

Research limitations/implications
The attrition rate was high, with only 43.9 per cent of the target families completing all of the research. However, this level of attrition did not lead to any significant differences between the control and intervention groups on their pre-test measures.

Practical implications
The study provides recommendations for free book gifting service provision in relation to pack contents and delivery.

This paper contributes to the limited international RCT evidence on free book gifting programmes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-30
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Children's Services
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 12 Mar 2014


  • Randomised controlled trial
  • Free book gifting
  • Shared Reading
  • Bookstart


Dive into the research topics of 'A Cluster Randomised Controlled Trial of “Bookstart+”: A Book Gifting Programme'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this