It's cool to read as literacy flies the flag

"READ MY LIPS" is the best known saying of George Bush, the former US president, who lived to rue the day he promised no new taxes. "Read me" is the logo of the National Year of Reading in Scotland, launched on Wednesday by Helen Liddell, the Education Minister, who hopes to have no such regrets.

The slogan will be emblazoned on crisp packets and buses, in doctors' surgeries, train stations, libraries, schools, businesses and homes across the country in a high-profile campaign co-ordinated by the Scottish Book Trust.

"To build up a literate nation, to ensure that everyone has the skills for the everyday world is at the heart of the Government's policy," Mrs Liddell said at the launch at Glasgow's Burrell Collection.

The initiative is linked to the Pounds 56 million to be spent over the next five years on improving literacy in the early years, grants totalling Pounds 400,000 for reading materials for primary schools and free CD-Roms for every primary school to help teachers assess children's reading.

Mrs Liddell also confirmed her recent announcement that the Scottish Office is investing Pounds 100,000 in a national competition to encourage every primary and secondary pupil to write "how they imagine Scotland might look in the future as a result of the new parliament". Further details will be sent to schools in December.

"The National Year of Reading should do for literacy what the World Cup does for football," according to Tim Blythe, director of group corporate affairs for WH Smith and a member of the Government task force that organised the UK-wide year of reading. "It's not about books or literature - it's about being able to read a manual to put your car right, or advice in a jobcentre window."

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