Fewer children are reading in their spare time, according to a new survey, making it harder for staff in teacher jobs to help raise attainment levels.
The National Literacy Trust polled 35,000 children aged between eight and 16 and found just 28.4 per cent read in their spare time nowadays, compared to 38.1 per cent who did so back in 2005.
Furthermore, the proportion of pupils embarrassed to be seen reading has increased of late, from 16.6 per cent two years ago to 21.5 per cent now.
This is likely to negatively affect their performance at school, given that 22.7 per cent of children who do not consider reading to be 'cool' are below average readers, whereas this only applies to 5.8 per cent of those who think the pastime is cool.
The study also showed 26.6 per cent of children do not think their parents care if they read, with these pupils only half as likely to be above average readers.
In response to this, the trust has launched its Literacy Heroes initiative to celebrate the efforts of individuals who have either had a significant impact on the reading skills of others - such as a primary or secondary teacher - or else overcome problems with literacy themselves.
Director Jonathan Douglas commented: "Our research not only reveals that children are reading less and developing more negative attitudes towards reading, but also that there is a clear correlation between this and their performance in reading tests.
"As poor reading, writing and communication skills will hold children back at school and throughout life, Literacy Heroes and reading role models have never been more important."
The significance of reading for pleasure to educational performance was highlighted in a recent Institute of Education study indicating that pupils who do so throughout childhood tend to fare better in maths, vocabulary and spelling tests at the age of 16.
Latest official figures show 86 per cent of year six pupils reached the expected standard of a level four or above on reading tests in 2013, down by a percentage point from a year before.
Posted by Tim Colman