Only half of young people get any enjoyment from reading, according to a survey of more than 17,000 pupils by the National Literacy Trust.
The research - which surveyed eight- to 16-year-olds in 112 schools - found that at key stage 4 only 17 per cent of pupils enjoyed reading "very much" and 23.7 per cent say they enjoy it "quite a lot".
This represents a significant drop from primary pupils, of whom 35.6 per cent enjoyed reading "very much" and 30.6 per cent "quite a lot".
Jonathan Douglas, director of the National Literacy Trust, demanded action. "We believe this should be of great concern to all political parties, as reading for pleasure helps to develop strong literacy skills and ultimately supports academic and future success," he said.
"The cider tax will bring in #163;30 million. For just a tenth of this money the government could establish which adults are most in need of literacy support and run a year-long campaign to help children and adults who are struggling."
The headline results were included in the National Literacy Trust's state of the nation report published this week. The full survey will be released this summer.
The charity is keen to make literacy an election issue and its "Vote for Literacy" campaign has won support from celebrities including former poet laureate Sir Andrew Motion, comedian Bill Bailey and singer Alesha Dixon.
How much pupils enjoy reading is linked to how well they do in it. "The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study" (PIRLS), published in 2007, showed that ten-year-olds in England had less positive attitudes to reading than children in most other countries and their attitudes had worsened since 2001. The study also found that more than one third of children play video games every day, one of the highest proportions.