Story Starters

“The children have got a totally changed attitude towards reading. Before they went on the sessions they didn’t really talk about reading, reading wasn’t a part of their natural home life. Having these sessions every week has made a huge difference because they are having a pleasurable experience with books.”

Story Starters is a unique programme that equips adults to provide pre-school children (aged 3-5) with positive experiences of active engagement in books and reading in a way that helps them develop the essentials they need to start their primary education ready to be taught to read:

  • motivation to learn to read
  • understanding of how books work
  • communication skills
  • ability to concentrate
  • vocabulary and language skills
  • phonological and letter awareness
  • narrative skills
  • confidence

Originally developed by Coram Beanstalk, in partnership with the ESRC International Centre for Language and Communication Development (LuCiD) and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, the programme is now available to all organisations and groups who want to create their own community of Story Starters.

What you get

Your community of Story Starters – who can be staff, parents or other volunteers – will be trained, on your premises (or online if you prefer) by expert Coram Beanstalk trainers (learn more about them here) to:

  • Understand how the reading journey starts for a young child​​​
  • Engage and develop appropriate learning relationships with (other people’s) children
  • Apply proven techniques to ensure children have positive and productive experiences of books​: establishing joint attention, reading aloud really effectively, inter-active (dialogic) reading
  • Use the sharing of books as an effective platform to develop children’s vocabulary, speaking and listening skills, concentration and confidence.

We will also share recommended lists of ‘Beanstalk brilliant’ books for you to use in your programme, plus post-training information and a range of follow-up resources for your Story Starters.

You can read about the impact of the programme in our Story Starters Impact and Evaluation report.


The Story Starters programme costs £1500 for up to 12 training participants.

If you'd like to speak to us about having Coram Beanstalk Story Starters in your setting, then fill in the form below and we'll get in touch with you!