Rising Number Of Parents Reading To Their Babies

4 October 2015, 09:34 | Updated: 4 October 2015, 12:37

More parents are helping their children develop vital skills by reading books to them when they are babies, a new report has revealed.

Almost 7 out of 10 parents and carers (69%) are using books with their child by the age of 10 months, according to the latest Growing Up in Scotland (GUS) study.

That compares to 66% before 2010, when the Bookbug scheme started giving away books to encourage more people to read to children and babies - with the Scottish Government stating the rise equates to over 1,700 more babies being read to every year.

Children's minister Aileen Campbell described the increase as ''extremely heartening'', adding she has ''no doubt'' the number of parents reading to youngsters will continue to grow.

Research by the GUS project has already shown children who are read to frequently in the first year of their life do better in tests of their cognitive ability at the age of three or four.

The study has followed the lives of two groups of children from across Scotland for the past 10 years, with a report to be published on Tuesday bringing together key findings from the decade.

As well as funding the Bookbug scheme, the Scottish Government also launched the PlayTalkRead campaign in 2009, encouraging people to play, read and talk with their children from birth in a bid to improve development and learning.

Ms Campbell 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.

''It is extremely heartening to learn that hundreds more parents and carers across Scotland have embraced the crucial role books can play in helping children to develop and acquire important pre-school skills and attributes such as speaking, a sense of curiosity and a lifelong love of books.

''In June this year we committed a further £2.7 million for pre-school programmes to improve literacy in children.

''This included the record-breaking PlayTalkRead campaign - whose website and outreach buses attracted 160,000 visits in 2014 and book gifting scheme Bookbug. We are also piloting plans to make every child in Scotland a member of their local library.''