Reading out loud to your children, no matter how young, is one of the best ways to instil in them a life-long love of reading. And beginning a life-long love of reading is one of the best ways to set a little one firmly on a strong academic path.
Which is exactly what Booktrust Northern Ireland has had in mind with its gifting programme to get more parents reading to their youngsters.
Apart from the joy of reading to a captivated child, the benefits are well proven. Research by the National Literacy Trust found that children who read at home are 13 times more likely to read above the expected level for their age.
I saw the positive impact of Booktrust's work first hand when it visited my daughter's nursery school recently to hand out a delightful pack of books for her to keep, as they do for all pre-schoolers. As a direct result, she asked to join a library and now visits regularly. We've had so much fun, I too signed up for a card after not setting foot in a library for years.
For children who come from homes in which books are scarce and reading together is not a habit, Booktrust's work is a lifeline to a better education. That's what is so hard to understand about the Department of Education decision to axe its funding. It's a penny wise, pound foolish move that has the potential to be to the detriment of thousands of children.