The Basic Skills Agency was given the International Reading Association UNESCO prize at a special ceremony in Paris this week. It recognises the agency's pioneering family literacy work over the past seven years.
The agency first ran its programme in the early Nineties in Liverpool, Norwich, North Tyneside and Cardiff.
The programme, described by the National Foundation for Educational Research as one of the most successful initiatives it had ever encountered, ran combined courses for parents and children aged three to six.
Research into the programme found that the children made significant improvements in reading, speaking and writing during the 12-week course and in the 12 weeks following.
At the start of the course 91 per cent of the children were assessed as struggling or severely disadvantaged in their early reading. Twelve weeks later the figure more than halved.
The follow-up research two years later found that children were ahead of their peers when it came to the support they received from their families as well as classroom behaviour.
The award in Paris was for International Literacy Day, which is part of an annual UNESCO programme of discussions and workshops on world literacy issues.