Actress Tamsin Greig visited Cathedral School in Redcross Way on Tuesday for the launch of Booktime 2012, an initiative to provide free books to reception-aged children across England and Wales.
Greig read the story book The Tale of a Naughty Little Rabbit to pupils who were also joined by furry friends from Animal Magic Mobile Zoo and special guest Peter Rabbit.
The award-winning Booktime programme is now in its seventh year and has given more than nine million books since it was launched in 2006.
This year more than 1.45 million books will be presented to 731,000 children in their first year of school through Booktime which aims to inspire a lifelong love of reading by encouraging families to have fun reading together.
Children in England will receive their book packs this autumn term. Each pack contains The Tale of a Naughty Little Rabbit, a playful and funny retelling of Beatrix Potter's original story The Tale of Peter Rabbit, and Tim's Din, written by Monica Hughes and illustrated by Bill Ledger from the Phonics Bug series by Pearson.
"A passion for reading is one of the greatest gifts that you can give a child," said Tamsin Greig.
"Books open doors to new worlds as well as explain the world we live in."
"I have loved sharing books with my children as it is so much fun - a time for closeness, laughing and talking together.
"They are now very eager independent readers, and keen to talk about the books they are reading themselves."
Viv Bird, chief executive of Booktrust, added: "Delivered by Booktrust in partnership with Pearson, Booktime gives free books to children starting school, making it fun and easy for parents and children to continue to make time to read and share stories together in the home.
"The stories are carefully chosen to encourage reading aloud and support for the child as they take their first steps to learn the skills of reading."