A LIBRARY worker who devotes her time to promoting literacy among youngsters was shortlisted for a national award recently.

Suzy Hill was among the top five people in the country in the running for the Best Bookstart Rhymetime award.

Ms Hill runs eight Rhymetime sessions a week at Darlington’s libraries and in doing so, helps to develop the language and social skills of babies and young children.

The sessions see families encouraged to use rhymes and songs to communicate with their children while learning more about the resources available at their local libraries and children’s centres.

After appealing for public nominations, Bookstart recognised the work of those who deliver the project in their 25th Anniversary Awards recently.

Ms Hill said she had been touched by the amount of families who nominated her, adding: “It meant such a lot to know that the sessions I have provided over the years have helped and they have been enjoyed.

“All the research indicates that there is a strong positive relationship between the frequency of book sharing and children’s language and literacy development, attainment at school and well-being.

“Singing and sharing rhymes with babies and young children doesn’t just help their language development but it also helps to develop their social skills as it’s a great opportunity for children to get to know their peers.

“Sitting next to one another and holding hands during the song Row, Row, Row Your Boat is ideal for helping those social skills.

“I am lucky enough to see this every day with our families – the first time baby claps along with a song, the first time they put their fingers in the air for Twinkle Twinkle and the first time they sing Incy Wincy Spider all the way through.

“They are magical moments of learning and bonding which when coupled with the book rich environment of our library create lasting memories for parents and children alike.”

The popular library worker added: “Our families make our days at work a joy and I’m thankful for these resources so that we can keep doing what we do the best.”

For more information about Bookstart, visit booktrust.org.uk and for information about upcoming events at Darlington’s libraries, visit darlington.gov.uk/leisure-and-culture/libraries.

As well as providing reading support, The Book Trust also encourages schools and library to invite children's authors and illustrators to come in and inspire the next generation of book lovers.

The project also offers tips and ideas to encourage even the most reluctant reader to pick up a book.