Under the Booktime initiative, which is operated by reading charity Booktrust in association with publishing company Pearson, and backed by the DCSF, every child aged between four and five in England will receive Slowly, Slowly, Slowly Said the Sloth by Eric Carle. Children will also receive book packs containing Why Is the Sky Blue?, a novelty book based on real questions that children ask about the world around them.
The Booktime packs have been designed to encourage children to explore and discover their environment and the wider world. They also contain guidance for parents and carers to encourage sharing books with children.
The packs are to be given out at primary schools and participating libraries. A range of interactive games, films and downloads will also be available on the Booktime website.
The DCSF is providing £13m funding for Booktrust's free book programmes for the year 2010-2011. Other programmes operated by the charity include the Bookstart free books programme for babies and toddlers, and Booked Up, which gives pupils aged between 11 and 12 the choice of a free book from a list of selected titles.
Viv Bird, chief executive of Booktrust, said, 'We are extremely proud of the continued success of Booktime and delighted that this September, thanks to the support of the Department of Children, Schools and Families and Pearson, reception-aged children across the country will once again receive a gift of a free book pack, a timely reminder of the importance - and fun - of sharing books with children even after they start primary school.
'I am sure that this year's fantastic storybook, Slowly, Slowly, Slowly Said the Sloth by Eric Carle, will be thoroughly enjoyed by children and families alike.'