Children 'too embarrassed to read'
Children increasingly see reading as "embarrassing", with fewer youngsters picking up a book for fun, research suggests.
The number of children who read outside class in their own time is falling, while some say their parents are not bothered if they read, according to a new study by the National Literacy Trust.
It reveals just over a quarter (28.4%) of 35,000 children surveyed said they read in their own time. This has fallen from more than a third (38.1%), who said the same in 2005.
More than one in five (21.5%) children admitted they were embarrassed to be seen reading, up from 16.6% two years ago.
And more than one in four (26.6%) said they do not think their parents care if they read.
The Trust announced it is launching a campaign to find the nation's literacy heroes.
It is asking the public to vote for individuals who have made a significant impact on others, such as inspiring a love of books or helping to improve reading skills.
Anyone from a parent, teacher or young person who has overcome a personal literacy problem to a favourite author or celebrity can be nominated, the Trust said.
The Duchess of Cornwall, who is supporting the campaign, said: "I firmly believe in the importance of igniting a passion for reading in the next generation. In a world where the written word competes with so many other calls on our attention, we need more literacy heroes to keep inspiring young people to find the pleasure and power of reading for themselves."
The campaign, which is also backed by authors including Joanna Trollope and Dorothy Koomson, and comedian Miles Jupp, comes the day after new national figures for England showed that almost 180,000 six-year-olds failed to reach the expected standard this year in the Government's reading check.
National Literacy Trust director Jonathan Douglas said: "Our research not only reveals that children are reading less and developing more negative attitudes towards reading, but also that there is a clear correlation between this and their performance in reading tests.
" As poor reading, writing and communication skills will hold children back at school and throughout life, literacy heroes and reading role models have never been more important."
:: Anyone wishing to vote can do so through the National Literacy Trust's website.
:: The Trust's survey questioned 35,000 eight to 16-year-olds at the end of last year.