Education secretary Nicky Morgan is urging all parents to buy their children a book for Christmas.
Ms Morgan said she hoped every child would find a book in their stocking on Christmas Day, because reading would “help set a child up for the rest of their life”.
Figures published in May by the National Literacy Trust showed nearly one in eight children – and nearly one in five disadvantaged children – had never been given a book as a present.
“I hope children across the country have the joy of opening a book this Christmas,” Ms Morgan said.
“No other gift can transport you from ancient Egypt to the outer reaches of space, introduce you to kings, queens, wizards and elves, make you laugh, take you on an adventure or change the way you see the world, all through the power of words.
“The gift of a book this Christmas will not only provide hours of reading enjoyment, but will help set a child up for the rest of their life.”
However, according to the bestselling author John Boyne, parents should choose their children’s books carefully.
Mr Boyne, author of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, told TES last month that reading for its own sake was not worthwhile.
“People often say, ‘As long as you’re reading, it’s good’,” he said in an interview. “But what’s the point of reading rubbish? There are so many better things you could do in life than reading, say, Fifty Shades of Grey. You could learn a language, climb a mountain. Reading for its own sake is not worthwhile.
“Reading for its own sake – what’s the point of that, if people aren’t reading interesting or challenging books?” he added. “Then you’re just reading any words on the page, for the sake of reading words.”