Children should be encouraged to read from their cereal boxes at breakfast time, t he headmaster of Eton has said.
Dubbing it the "Cornflakes test", Tony Little said children, especially boys, can benefit from reading in many different forms including magazines and puzzle books.
Mr Little, whose book, An Intelligent Person's Guide to Education, is serialised in The Times, also encouraged parents to get involved rather than simply telling their children to read.
He said: "I have seen the effect that an adult or friend can have on boys by reading a section of text aloud to them. They become interested enough to read on, either by themselves or sharing the reading with others."
The head teacher, who is due to step down from his post this summer after 13 years in charge, added that children should read every day.
He said: "Even the 'Cornflakes test' can be revealing - does your bleary-eyed child read the text on the side of the cereal pack at breakfast? The reading habit is a muscle that needs to be exercised daily."
David Cameron, the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry all studied at Eton.
Mr Little will leave the prestigious boys' private school to become chief education officer of the GEMS Education network of schools in Europe, the US and Africa.