Today's children are reading less than seven years ago as their time is taken up with other activities, research suggests.
It is not just novels that youngsters are turning their back on.
The study found that children are also less likely to read comics, magazines and websites.
While many said they enjoy 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 more than 21,000 children and young people at the end of last year. The findings show that three in 10 youngsters read daily in their own time, compared with four in 10 in 2005.
Half of the children questioned said they enjoyed reading very much, or quite a lot, almost the same as in 2005 when the figure was 51%.
And 54% of those questioned said they preferred watching television to reading.
The study coincides with International Literacy Day tomorrow.