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25/06/15 10:40

£2.7 million for pre-school learning

Continued funding for early years literacy programmes.

Funding of £2.7 million for pre-school programmes to improve literacy in children was announced today by Education Secretary Angela Constance.

Bookbug, which aims to encourage reading from an early age, will receive increased funding of £1.7 million and the PlayTalkRead campaign has been allocated a further £1 million.

Bookbug is run by the Scottish Book Trust and funded by the Scottish Government. It aims to lay the foundations of early literacy, improve communication skills, highlight the importance of books and the benefits of early book sharing.

PlayTalkRead encourages parents and carers to play, talk and read with their young children every day to help them develop essential skills to encourage learning throughout their lives. Last year the campaign reached a record number of families.

The Cabinet Secretary confirmed the funding during a visit to a Bookbug session in Edinburgh. She said:

“Improving literacy in our children and young people is a key priority for this Government and we know that learning begins long before school. Parents and carers play a vital part in nurturing a sense of curiosity, discovery and learning-by-play at home, developing critical pre-school skills like speaking and developing a love of books.

“I’ve seen how the PlayTalkRead buses and website offer practical support and fun ideas for parents and carers on how to help their child’s development and I’m pleased we can continue to build on the campaign’s success to reach more families across Scotland.

“I know the importance of introducing children to books at an early age and that’s exactly what the Bookbug programme aims to do.”

Marc Lambert, Director of Scottish Book Trust added:

“Sharing a book with your child on a regular basis, from as early an age as possible, is one of the simplest and most effective things you can do to make a real difference to their future. The rhythm of your voice and the speech patterns of stories and rhymes help children to lay strong foundations for later language development. The expansion of our Bookbug programme will enable us to deepen our work with schools, achieve a greater level of parental engagement and continue providing free books for children and families across the country via our Bookbug Bags and free Bookbug Sessions in public libraries.”

Notes to editors

Extensive research has highlighted the positive impact of reading to children in their pre-school years. The Growing Up in Scotland Study (GUS) found that children who are often read to and those who had visited a library by the time they were 10 months old score higher in assessments of cognitive ability at age 3-4.

PlayTalkRead reached a record number of families in 2014, with a 50 per cent year-on-year increase in visitors to the website and more than 43,000 people visiting the PlayTalkRead buses, Benji and Bessie – an 11 per cent increase on the previous year.

A survey of those who visited the bus found that 69 per cent understood more about the nature of child development, 79 per cent said they would access services they were previously unaware of and 91 per cent had learned more ways to interact with their child. An evaluation of the TV campaign saw 4 out of 5 parents reporting high levels of motivation.

Bookbug is the Scottish Book Trust’s book gifting programme, which seeks to promote the importance of books and the benefits of early book sharing. It aims to lay the foundations of early literacy, enhance attachment and emotional intelligence as well as communication and listening skills. Bookbug staff and volunteers also work directly with vulnerable children and families to support early literacy in the home.