The prime minister's wife, Sarah Brown, has called on schools and parents to do more to encourage children to read.
Children must enjoy reading, Mrs Brown says
Her comments come as the reading performance of children in England fell from third to 19th in the world in a major assessment.
Writing in the Sun newspaper, she says she knows how hard it is to strike a balance when children have televisions and computers as a distraction.
She says children need to understand that reading can be fun and magical.
She said: "There is a direct link between how much children enjoy reading and how well they can read.
"Children have to read because they love it, not because their parents and teachers force them to.
"That's why we should all be concerned that children's love of reading has declined in recent years."
The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (Pirls), undertaken every five years, involved children aged about 10 in 40 countries.
Scotland also fell, from 14th to 26th. Russia, which matched it last time, was top of the overall achievement table.
Analysis of the England results said children were spending more time on computers and reading less for fun.