PURPOSE:This study examined the effectiveness of a classroom-based intervention programme aimed at improving the oral language and emergent literacy skills of students from low socio-economic, culturally diverse backgrounds within their first formal year of schooling ("prep"). METHOD:Data from 137 students were available for analysis. Participants were from three primary schools located in Queensland, Australia. Eight classes were allocated to intervention and two classes acted as a business as usual control. All students received literacy instruction as per the Australian Curriculum. However, the intervention group received 24 weeks of scripted, classroom-based, book-based intervention targeting code- and meaning-related emergent literacy skills. All students were assessed individually pre- and post-intervention on code-related measures (i.e. letter identification and phonological awareness) and meaning-related measures (i.e. vocabulary, oral narrative comprehension and retell). RESULT:All students made significant improvement over time for all measures. Students in the intervention group showed significantly more progress than the business as usual group on all measures, except for letter identification and oral narrative comprehension. CONCLUSION:This classroom-based book-based intervention can improve the code- and meaning-related emergent literacy skills of prep students from low socio-economic backgrounds and provide these students with the building blocks for successful literacy acquisition.