Small Book — Great Person

The Polish Book Institute’s Small Book — Great Person campaign reminds us of the benefits of reading together as a family, right from the first months of a child’s life. It has been devised to complement the Bookstart programme, in which young parents are presented with a Reading Layette while still in the maternity ward. We believe that reading begins from the cradle, long before children begin to independently put letters together. Well-chosen books develop their minds and emotions, shape their linguistic competence, root them in culture and stimulate their imagination. The Reading Layette consists of a selection of poems for children called Mom, Dad and Me (Mama, tata i ja ) by celebrated Polish poets, beautifully illustrated by Elżbieta Wasiuczyńska, as well as a brochure entitled Connected by the Books I Read to my Child from Birth, which shows parents the incalculably important  role that reading plays in a child’s development. Our aim is to convince parents that reading together can be not just a great pleasure, but above all a wonderful opportunity to build intimacy and strong, lasting family connections.

The next step of our campaign is dedicated to children about to begin their pre-school education (3-6 years old). Its aim is to encourage parents to visit libraries frequently and read with their children on a daily basis. Every child who comes to a library participating in the project receives, as a gift, a Reading Layette, which includes the book The Gnome in the Crooked Hat (Krasnal w Krzywej Czapce) written by the outstanding author Wojciech Widłak and illustrated by Aleksandra Krzanowska, and a Little Reader’s Card. Each time the Little Reader visits the library and borrows at least one book from the children’s collection, they receive a sticker. After collecting ten of these, they presented with a personalised certificate in confirmation of their reading accomplishments. Pre-schoolers can borrow books from more than 6,600 libraries across the country.

The third stage of our Bookstart project is targeted at children starting primary school. Since 2020, every pupil beginning first grade has received a book containing a selection of the best classic texts by Polish authors for this age group, illustrated by Iwona Chmielewska, an artist appreciated the world over. My First ABC (Pierwsze abecadło) is our invitation to children to learn to read independently.

Thus far, 4,000,000 Reading Layettes for new-borns, pre-schoolers and pupils have been distributed under the programme.

The Small Book — Great Person also has a ‘social’ element whereby it is present on television, radio, and the Internet, and organises many live events for children and parents, with an annual reach of twenty million Poles.

The Small Book — Great Person initiative is funded by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland.