Helen Liddell, the party's Scottish education spokeswoman, was commenting as David Blunkett, the Shadow Education Secretary, backed television commercials to tell parents to spend time reading with their children and a year of literacy and teacher retraining. All pupils entering secondary in 2006 should have reached their proper reading level, according to Mr Blunkett.
But north of the border Labour will concentrate on its "compact" with parents to set learning targets appropriate to each child's age and stage. One key target is likely to be the ability to read by age seven. In England and Wales, targets will be set for schools and pupils.
Mrs Liddell's document underlines the importance of basic skills in "the golden years of three to seven".