Thousands of primary school children never complete the reading of a book during the course of a year at school, says a report out today.
A survey by education publishers Heinemann reveals one in eight primary school teachers say they have never completed a whole book with their class.
Many teachers say the reason for this is that they have to resort to concentrating on teaching bite-size chunks from books in order to fulfil all the demands of the national curriculum.
Nearly two-thirds said they felt that not completing a whole book could turn children off reading. Six out of 10 believe a return to whole books would help to spark more interest among pupils in reading.
"I think it will shock the public that so few whole books are being taught in class," said children's author and former Children's Laureate Michael Rosen.
Academics say national curriculum specifications have now been eased to give teachers more freedom but the damage may already have been done with many youngsters.
"The idea that children can't manage whole stories or whole books is a nonsense," added Mr Rosen. "No extract in the world has the power of books."