Reception children in Welsh schools are to receive free books after the government announced it would provide funding in a bid to boost literacy.
Funding of £200,000 a year for three years will go towards Booktrust Cymru's Foundation Phase programme.
This will help pay for a book bag for each reception pupil in Wales as well as additional school literacy resources and a support officer to liaise with schools.
Following a pilot run of the scheme in Wrexham and Bridgend, people in teaching jobs said that they found the programme very helpful, with 81 per cent saying that they believe the packs will be either useful or extremely useful in supporting literacy teaching.
As part of the scheme, children are given two books, one in English and one in Welsh. Some 96 per cent of parents reported reading the English language book with their child, while 37 per cent had read the Welsh version.
Announcing the funding, Welsh education minister Leighton Andrews commented that nothing was more important than making sure that children attain the level of reading suitable for their age.
"If we're to encourage good reading habits, then it's essential that children have access to the books and resources they need," he said.
"The funding I'm announcing for Booktrust Cymru will give children that head-start and help us in our drive to improve literacy in the Foundation Phase."
As well as the Foundation Phase funding, the Welsh government has announced further funding to provide vulnerable young people with free books and other resources.
An additional £586,000 will be provided to Booktrust Cymru's Bookstart and Letterbox Club schemes, while the Welsh Books Council will be given £337,000.
The director of Bookstart and Bookgifting Programmes, Rosemary Clarke, said that her organisation was "thrilled" that the government was continuing to provide funding.
"This is very good news for every child and parent in Wales," she added.
Posted by Harriet McGowan