Fathers also need encouragement to read with their sons, to help combat a marked difference between the progress of girls and boys, according to academics at the University of Exeter.
A two-year research project found half of parents with children at primary school had received training or advice from teachers about the best way to share a book at home. Researchers found some parents did too little to make their children enjoy reading, with a few putting so much pressure on children that reading at home became counter-productive.
Improving standards in the "three Rs" in primary schools are central to the Government's education policy. The findings come just days after the Government launched a national television campaign to persuade parents to read with their children. More than 370,000 leaflets of practical hints have already been sent out as a result of prime-time advertising, produced as part of the National Year of Reading.
Professor Ted Wragg, who led the research, said many parents would welcome training from teachers. "People tend to say a few middle-class professional parents want to cram their kids at home but in reality it's across the board. Parents want to help their children and often want specific advice. Some parents try to give six-year-olds Huckleberry Finn."
The study, based on a survey of 1,400 primary schools, found boys lagged behind girls in reading from the age of six. Three-quarters of mothers but only half of fathers read with infants. By the time children reached eight, only half of mothers and a quarter of fathers regularly shared a book.Reuse content