Ian Rankin said it was too easy to put children in front of a television
Edinburgh-based author Ian Rankin is helping to launch a campaign to make Scotland "fully literate".
The creator of Det Insp John Rebus has been appointed to a Labour commission to tackle a decline in literacy across the country.
Labour education spokeswoman Rhona Brankin joined Mr Rankin at Gorebridge Primary School in Midlothian.
She said: "Our vision is Scotland can become the first country in the world to become fully literate."
She added: "The job of the commission, that will include members from a range of interests including education, parents and business, will be to develop a national plan that will support those delivering education in Scotland to achieve a step change in literacy levels."
Mr Rankin heard how eight-year-olds were coping with literacy issues.
The 16-strong commission is being led by Scottish Parent Teacher Council chairwoman Judith Gillespie.
Mr Rankin said: "Being able to read is something that every child in Scotland should be able to enjoy.
"Reading gives choices and chances to young people as well as opening up new worlds of books.
"I will play my part in working as part of the commission and hope that its work might help Scotland produce even more successful writers than we already do."
Ms Gillespie stressed the importance of the subject and said: "As a parent I have watched how children who fail to learn to read start to fall behind and then get involved in displacement activities to hide their difficulty.
"We know that many of those in prison have poor literacy levels whilst the idea of a parent being unable to read the instructions on a medicine bottle must worry everyone.
"Literacy is not an option - it is essential for individuals and society."