A NEW project being launched at primary schools in York is encouraging fathers to read more to their children.

Yorkshire actor Chris Walker, who is currently starring in daytime TV soap opera Doctors, and has previously been in Coronation Street and The Bill, dropped in at Yearsley Grove School off Huntington Road to read to three and four-year-olds with their dads.

He was there to help launch FRED (Fathers Reading Every Day), a national programme being taken up by a number of city primaries.

Head teacher Eve Morris said: “It gives our young dads and their children a male role model, who they see isn’t scared to read. It is about promoting skills for life and we want to raise the profile of reading. It’s important to get children into reading while they are young.

“With boys especially, if you miss the chance to inspire them with a book it’s often more difficult getting them inspired when they are older.”

Adele Sigston, reception teacher and one of the FRED programme leaders at Yearsley, said: “It’s a four-week programme for dads and they have to go away and read every night over a four-week period for five minutes a night for the first two weeks and then ten minutes a night for the second part of the month.

“The idea is that they keep going with this to create a life-long love of reading in their children.”

Miss Morris said, although Chris had no direct links to the school, he was very keen to take part. Chris said: “My children are grown up, they are 18 and 21, but I used to make stories up for them. It’s about the kids making their own images in their minds.”

Dad Andy King, who attended the session with his four-year-old son, William, said: “We read together already.

“He likes the Gruffalo. I have four kids aged 11, nine, seven and then William, four and I have read with all of them. My eldest lad likes reading technical books. I don’t think it matters what the subject is so long as they are reading.”