The pleasure of getting lost in a good book could become unknown to many children, teachers have warned in a new survey.
More than half of school staff (57 per cent) think their pupils read for pleasure less often than they and their classmates did when they were children. Two-fifths predict that children will read less in 10 years' time than they do today.
The survey, commissioned by the Booktrust charity and education firm Pearson, questioned more than 500 teachers and librarians about pupils' reading habits. It found that just 18 per cent believe that young people read more than their generation did.
There are also signs that parents are not encouraging the activity – almost two-thirds (64 per cent) of those polled said that mothers and fathers were less involved in motivating children to read than they were 10 years ago.
The poll, commissioned to mark the launch of the Read For My School competition, found that reading for pleasure plays a large part in everyday school life for many children.
One in four teachers said they read stories to their class every day, with a further third doing so a few times a week. More than two-fifths of teachers surveyed said they set aside time in class every day for pupils to read and a further 26 per cent said they do so a few times a week.
More than half said they set reading as homework at least a few times a week.
The Read For My School competition challenges seven- to 13-year-olds to read as many books as they can in two months. Last year, more than 3,600 schools took part, with around 212,000 youngsters reading a total of 876,000 books.
The competition runs from today until March 20. There is a free online library of more than 150 books that can be read on computers, tablets and other mobile devices; as well as the free online library, pupils can read any book offline as long as it fits into one of eight categories, including humour, adventure and real-life.