Thousands of local children are to receive free books and other gifts in a bid to help them discover the joy of reading.

Funding from the Scottish Government means every baby, toddler and three-year-old child in the area will get a Bookbug bag containing books by some of the UK’s favourite authors and illustrators, including Michelle Sloan, Emily Dodd and Tim Hopgood.

The bags also include a selection of materials such as finger puppets, a height chart and crayons.

And, with eco-friendliness in mind, the bags are made from recycled plastic bottles.

The Bookbug programme is managed by the Scottish Book Trust and run in partnership with libraries, health professionals and nurseries.

Marc Lambert, CEO of the Scottish Book Trust, said: “This year marks the tenth anniversary of the Bookbug programme.

“Every child, toddler and three-year-old will receive a bag of books and activities, hand-picked by our panel of early years experts.

“At Scottish Book Trust, we believe it’s never too early to start reading to your little one – not only to improve literacy but also to help bonding between families.”

Maree Todd, minister for childcare and early years, added: “Reading captures the imagination and stimulates a child’s development. It is also a great activity for parents to share with their little ones.

“We recognise how important it is to introduce babies and children to books as early as possible and encourage parents to play a part in their child’s learning right from the start.

“I hope our Bookbug bags will spark a lifelong love and appreciation of books and storytelling for those receiving them.

“The Bookbug bags are a vital resource for children and families that can help to close the attainment gap in both literacy and numeracy between young people from different backgrounds.”