Today's children are reading less than those of seven years ago as their time is taken up with other activities, research suggests.
Young people are not just turning their backs on novels – the study found they are also less likely to read comics, magazines and websites. While many said they enjoyed reading, almost a fifth said they would be embarrassed if a friend saw them with a book.
The research, by the National Literacy Trust, was based on a survey of 21,000 children at the end of last year. The findings show that three in 10 read daily in their own time, compared with four in 10 in 2005. Of those questioned, 54 per cent said they preferred watching television to reading.
Half the children said they enjoyed reading very much or quite a lot, almost the same as in 2005, when the figure was 51 per cent.
The study said: "These findings suggest a clear issue with children's leisure time, with many children enjoying reading but pushing it out in favour of other activities."