Children increasingly see reading as "embarrassing", with fewer youngsters picking up a book for fun, research suggests.
The number of children who read outside class in their own time is falling, while some say their parents are not bothered if they read, according to a new study by the National Literacy Trust.
It reveals just over a quarter (28.4%) of 35,000 children surveyed said they read in their own time. This has fallen from more than a third (38.1%), who said the same in 2005.
More than one in five (21.5%) children admitted they were embarrassed to be seen reading, up from 16.6% two years ago.
And more than one in four (26.6%) said they do not think their parents care if they read.
Acclaimed author Iain Banks has revealed that he has only months to live after suffering from terminal cancer.
The 59-year-old writer posted a personal statement on his website today and admitted the novel he is currently working on, The Quarry, would likely be his last.
He wrote: "The bottom line, now, I'm afraid, is that as a late stage gall bladder cancer patient, I'm expected to live for 'several months' and it’s extremely unlikely I'll live beyond a year. So it looks like my latest novel, The Quarry, will be my last."
Crime author Ruth Rendell is so concerned about literacy levels she has written a novel comprising words of only two syllables or less.
Rendell hopes Archie and Archie, which features a cat and a dog, will become a book that adults learning to read can enjoy with their children.
Speaking at The Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival yesterday, Rendell said millions of adults cannot read and many more are able to read little more than newspaper headlines.
Archie and Archie will be Rendell's second book aimed at new adult readers following The Thief.
The author is also an ambassador for the National Literacy Trust
"They are very simply written,” she said. “The idea is that they would be one of the first things [illiterate adults] could do when they learn to read”.
Rendell, who described herself as a “bookish child”, added: “We have a great many people who cannot read. It’s awful. I do what I can to try and get people reading".
Archie and Archie is due to be published later this year.
ITV Presenter Holly Willoughby is branching out into the world of books. The 32-year-old is writing a children's book with her sister Kelly. 'LEtoile, School for Stars' is due to be published in the Summer. It follows the lives of twins at stage school.
Speaking to The Mirror, Holly said: "My sister and I have only just started working on the book and it has been a brilliant experience. My sister is older than me and she’s always been brilliant at writing stories.
"I’ve always been her first port of call to test out the stories so since being young girls we’ve talked about how one day it would be wonderful to have our own book."
- The Evening Standard's David Sexton: "The problem for Rowling's legions of fans will be that she has forgotten to include any basic likeability in her characters here or any real suspense as to what will happen - or deliberately chosen not to supply it."
- The Daily Express's Emma Lee-Potter: "The book isn't flawless. Her writing style is direct and uncomplicated rather than literary and she has an annoying habit of shoving slabs of explanatory detail into brackets."