Children in years 3 to 6 should be reading “at least one book a week”, schools minister Nick Gibb has said.

Mr Gibb made the comments yesterday during a speech at St Andrew’s Primary School in Soham, Cambridgeshire.

He said the second objective of the government’s English curriculum was practice, encouraging children to “improve the fluency and speed of their reading” by reading “large numbers of books”, adding: “The more you read, the more vocabulary you acquire and the easier it becomes to comprehend.”

He said: “For this reason, I would like to see every pupil in years 3 to 6 of primary school reading at least one book a week. ‘A book a week’ should be the mantra for anyone hoping to eliminate illiteracy in this country.”

It is not the first time the government has used the “book a week” phrase.

In a document released by the Department for Education last March entitled Reading: the next steps, the government threw its support behind the “Read On. Get On.” campaign.

The document said: “The government strongly welcomes the campaign’s commitment to inspiring families to read more at home, giving parents the confidence to encourage children to build this daily reading habit up to reading a book a week by the end of primary school.

“This is both ambitious and exciting, and could make a real difference to how well children do at school.”