Michael Rosen says government policy is macho
Children's Laureate Michael Rosen has said ministers are making a "big mistake" by not putting enough emphasis on reading for pleasure.
The author and poet - who wrote "We're going on a bear hunt" - criticised a "tests and targets" culture.
Mr Rosen told the Evening Standard it was "absolutely tragic" that few teachers had time to foster a love of reading among pupils.
And he said the government's attitude to education was "macho".
Ministers, he said, liked to "talk tough".
"They think what wins votes is if you appear on television with a great big truncheon in your hand and say, 'We are going to bash teachers and kids'."
It is not the first time the writer has criticised the government's policies on literacy.
In December, he attacked the teaching of poetry, in an interview with the BBC News Website.
He said the effect of Sats and the whole literacy strategy, had been "disastrous" for poetry.
In his interview with the Evening Standard, he said: "It's not sufficient simply to have children learning how to bark at print. You must have the enjoyment going on at the same time.
"If they read for pleasure, children will achieve.
"The government is making a big mistake by not saying reading for pleasure is as important as learning to read."
A spokesman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) said: "It is one of the highest priorities of government that every child is able to read and write confidently up to the right standard for their age. Thanks to our investment and focus on literacy 100,000 more 11 year olds are now achieving the target level for their age.
"Our more personal approach - providing extra one-to-one tuition and 'reading recovery' programmes, and National Year of Reading activities, are inspiring children and parents to read more.
"This is about more than children’s achievement at school – we want to bring about a long-term change in the nation’s attitudes to reading and we want children, adults and families to be reading because they love it."