The number of four and five-year-olds regularly borrowing books from Sandwell libraries has more than doubled, thanks to a council scheme that introduces them to reading early in life. The number of reception age children regularly borrowing books topped 3,280 in 2014/15, compared with just 1,620 the previous year. The government has now announced that it wants to roll out similar schemes across the whole country.

Council bosses say the scheme, which gives little ones in Sandwell library membership and access to free books has helped bring more children into libraries than ever before. Booktastic is designed to encourage reading from a young age, as statistics show children with better literacy levels are more likely to do well in education.

Booktastic membership packs are given to all reception age children during the new school year. Parents are being urged to take advantage of the free pack and introduce their children to books and reading as early as possible.  The campaign to get children reading follows the council's successful Summer Reading Challenge - a national campaign that rewards children for the number of books they read during the summer holidays.

Councillor Simon Hackett cabinet member for children's services said: "Booktastic has proved to be really successful in encouraging young children to read books. The government is looking to introduce this scheme nationally but here in Sandwell we have a good head start on that. It's really important children read books from an early age to give them a good foundation for the rest of their education."

Anyone can join the library for free. For details, go to the libraries website: