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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 October 2007, 09:15 GMT 10:15 UK
Balls seeks reading 'revolution'
Girl reading
Girls consistently outperform boys in reading
There needs to be "a national revolution" in children's reading at school and at home, says England's Schools Secretary, Ed Balls.

A book at bedtime should be as much a part of the daily routine as brushing a child's teeth, Mr Balls said.

Just 10 minutes of reading a day could make a difference to a child's future by instilling a love of books, he said.

Launching the National Year of Reading he called for a focus on events outside the school gates as well as within.

Why not buy your child a book for Christmas or birthday
Ed Balls
Mr Balls said: "Literacy levels have been improving steadily over the last 10 years but there is still work to be done, especially in getting those kids really struggling up to standard.

"Along with schools and the education community, I urge parents, publishers, authors, broadcasters, celebrities, employers and local communities to come on board and make 2008 something really special.

"And I don't want them to wait until 2008. Let's make a start now. Why not buy your child a book for Christmas or birthday?"

TV presenters Richard and Judy appear to have heeded Mr Balls' call already and are to launch a children's version of their Channel Four show's book club.

Standards in children's reading have been edging up over the last few years, with 84% of 11-year-olds achieving the required reading standards this year.

But this is only one percentage point higher than in 2000, and on average boys' reading and writing abilities still fall consistently below girls'.

Mr Balls has already warned head teachers against complacency, saying they need to do more to ensure that standards continue to rise.

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