Parents are being urged to make a New Year's resolution to spend more time reading to their children.
Children in England are not reading enough outside of school
Schools Secretary Ed Balls is spearheading the initiative ahead of the National Year of Reading 2008, which officially starts in April.
Mr Balls said reading a child a bedtime story every night could have a huge impact on their development.
"Reading can bring fun to their lives, feed their imagination, and develop their curiosity about the world."
"As parents we need to make reading a part of everyday life for our children - whether that is reading stories to younger children or talking about books and magazines with older kids," he said.
A recent survey found the reading performance of children in England had fallen from third to 19th in the world.
The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study, published in November, highlighted significant increases in the proportion of English 10-year-olds with the "least positive" attitudes to reading and who said they very seldom read stories or novels outside school.
Mr Balls said it could make "all the difference" if parents set aside 10 minutes a day before bedtime to read with their children.
"Too many children today are not reading for pleasure - and this is harming not just our children's reading skills, but also their imagination and general knowledge," he said.
The National Year of Reading is being run by the National Literacy Trust, which has some ideas to encourage reading in different age groups.
For babies to 3-year-olds - make a scrapbook about your child full of pictures and words. Read the words with your child and get them to say what else should be in their story.
For three to five-year-olds - cut out pictures from catalogues or magazines of objects that all begin with the same letter, plus a few that do not. Write down the names of the objects and get your child to match the picture to the name.
For five to eight-year-olds. - find your family's top five reads. Ask everyone in your family to name their favourite reads - it could be a book, magazine, comic or newspaper. Involve grandparents, cousins etc. And see if the neighbours agree.