More than four in five children say they were taught to read by their mum or dad rather than a teacher.
The finding is revealed in a survey by the National Literacy Trust of 1,500 pupils aged eight to 14 and contradicts academic research.
Less than two-thirds of children said they were taught to read by their teacher compared to 85 per cent who credited their mother, and 66 per cent their father, according to the survey. Research estimates that only about 1 per cent of children learn to read without systematic instruction.
Dr Rhona Stainthorp, director of the Language and Literacy Research Centre at London university's institute of education, said: "The children's perception is charming but a little exaggerated.
"Certainly children are supported by their parents, but the evidence is that the majority ... are not good readers.
"It is the teachers who build on the strategies that parents, with luck, have given the children which enable them to read."
Twins Harry and George Flint, aged six, of Crick, Northamptonshire, are clear they were taught to read by Mrs Hupfield, their teacher at Crick primary.
Harry said: "I had to practise and practise."
George said: "Reading is hard when you have to read long sentences and in Year 2 we'll be doing even longer sentences."
The survey was carried out as part of the trust's Reading Champions campaign, set up to promote reading among boys, and comes as this week's key stage 2 results show that boys have narrowed the gap in reading. This year 82 per cent of 11-year-old boys reached level 4 - a 3 point increase - compared to 87 per cent of girls.
NATIONAL TEST RESULTS 8