CHILDREN in Swindon will receive free books as part of a drive by WH Smith to encourage reading.

National literacy charity Reading is Fundamental has joined forces with WH Smith's charitable arm to run book activities for children.

The first event took place at Richard Jeffries play area last month, where more than 20 children received two free books of their choice and a literary goodie bag.

The event will be held again at the play area on August 31.

WH Smith chief executive Kate Swann said that the company was delighted to be supporting the Summer Read programme for the second year.

"We are committed to promoting literacy and lifelong learning and we see our partnership with Reading is Fundamental as an excellent way to keep children reading and enjoying books during the summer holidays," she said.

Reading is Fundamental's acting director Viv Bird said that books were essential to each child's future.

"A love of reading has been shown to have more of an effect on children's achievement than their parents' wealth," Ms Bird said.

"We're pleased that our partnership with the WH Smith Trust is enabling children across the UK to have fun with books and reading during the long summer break."

The activities come on top of Swindon Council winning more than £250,000 in extra funding, including almost £200,000 to teach children to read. The first of three grants is £150,000 and the council is one of only 10 local authorities to join the Every Child a Reader programme.

The money will pay for reading teacher training.

The council was also given money to run an early reading pilot project.

The second grant of £45,000 will be spent on a consultant to improve literacy and learning among the youngest children in schools.

The third grant of £70,000 will be spent on leadership training for secondary school heads and teachers.

For more information about Reading is Fundamental visit