Almost half of parents in the UK admit resorting to bribery to get their children to read, a new survey has suggested.

Parents are using TV, the computer and sweets as incentives to encourage their youngsters to open a book, according to a poll commissioned by education publishing firm Pearson.

It found that both teachers and parents believe that increased access to technology is turning children off reading, with many youngsters bored by books.

The findings show that six in 10 parents (59.4 per cent) and more than eight in 10 teachers (85.4 per cent) believe children are more likely to log on to a computer than pick up a book.

More than half of parents (57.2 per cent) said they were concerned that digital media is replacing reading, while three in four (76.6 per cent) believe it is more difficult for their child to spend time learning to read, with all the other distractions available, than it was when they were growing up.

A third of parents (32.4 per cent) admit they only allow their child to watch TV or use the computer after reading, while one in 10 (9.6 per cent) gives their child treats such as sweets or chocolate. A further 5.9 per cent say they use other rewards.

Both parents and teachers (65.3 per cent and 84 per cent respectively) think children would read more if they could access some elements of their school reading programme on the computer.

And nearly nine in 10 teachers (88.7 per cent) are concerned that reading is becoming increasingly less attractive for children growing up today.

The poll also asked children for their views on reading, and found that many were more likely to play games on the computer, surf the internet or watch TV than read a book.

Almost two-thirds (61.9 per cent) said these activities were more exciting than reading, while over a third (37.3 per cent) said they wished reading school books at home was more like playing a game.

More than a fifth (22 per cent) said they found reading school books at home boring.

Many of the youngsters questioned also wanted to see more books with TV characters in them, with Doctor Who and Ben 10 and Wallace and Gromit the characters children would most like to read about.

Popular children’s characters are part of Bug Club, a new school reading programme launched today which uses modern methods to teach synthetic phonics and literacy.

The programme uses characters to engage children about reading and is the first to combine real books with an interactive online reading world. Pauline Woods, head teacher of Brookfield Infant School, which piloted Bug Club, said: “It’s fantastic to see the children automatically recognise some of the characters and this instantly switches them on to reading and makes them want to read more – this is one of the things most schools struggle with.”

The poll questioned 1,100 adults and children, including 300 primary school staff.

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