NEW figures have found that more than 100,000 children have received free books this year as part of a Scottish Government programme.

Figures from the Scottish Book Trust show that a total of 126,000 children in Primary 2 and Primary 3 received free books this year as part of the Read, Write, Count with the First Minister programme.

This number also includes 2000 children who received books in Gaelic, with children in the Highland and Glasgow local authorities receiving the most, at 410 and 400 respectively.

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Children in Aberdeenshire, Clackmannanshire, Dumfries, Dundee, East Lothian, Falkirk, Fife, Midlothian, Moray, Orkney, Scottish Borders, Shetland, South Ayrshire, West Dunbartonshire, and West Lothian did not receive any books in Gaelic.

The children received Read Write Count bags which contain two books chosen by a panel, including representatives from the Scottish Government, Education Scotland and other family and learning professionals.

The SNP have hailed the programme for increasing the number of opportunities open to children in Scotland, “giving them the best start in life possible”.

The SNP’s Stephanie Callaghan (below), MSP for Uddingston and Bellshill, said the programme was important in “encouraging a new generation of young readers”.

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Callaghan continued: “Access to good books can help foster a love of reading that can last a lifetime - and I welcome these figures that show just how many children in Scotland have benefited from the Read, Write, Count with the First Minister programme.

“This is particularly welcome following the recent ACEL figures confirming that attainment in literacy in primary schools is at a record high, and the attainment gap in literacy in primaries is at a record low. Programmes like Read, Write, Count will be crucial in driving further progress.

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“While also encouraging a new generation of young readers, the Read Write Count programme underlines this SNP Government’s commitment to giving children growing up in Scotland as many opportunities as possible.

“From increasing access to books to Baby Boxes and Best Start Grants, delivering for Scotland’s young people is a priority for the SNP.”

Local authorities that received the most books are Glasgow (16,687), Edinburgh (9815), North Lanarkshire (8414) and South Lanarkshire (7936).

Meanwhile, Orkney (433), Shetland (560), Western Isles (814) and Clackmannanshire (1080) received the least amount of books.