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Books-for-babies scheme proves success

More parents are reading regularly to their babies under the Bookstart programme that sends them home from health clinics with free books and advice, researchers announced today.

The scheme, which has run nationwide since January 1999, with the help of pound;6 million from Sainsbury, has also boosted library membership among children under a year old.

Comments from parents and carers show that it has raised confidence and commitment to reading.

The National Centre for Research in Children's Literature, which conducted the study for the charity Booktrust, which co-ordinates the scheme, confirms the gains are likely to match the success of the pilot programme. The "Birmingham Bookstart Babies" have been ahead of their peers in literacy and numeracy since 1992.

The report is available, priced pound;30, from Booktrust, tel: 020 8516 2995, email: lee@booktrust.org.uk

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