Families in the West Midlands are failing to read enough to their children, contributing to the region's low literacy rate, a reading lobby group claimed.
The National Reading Campaign said too many youngsters were missing out on developing reading skills because they were not being encouraged at home.
Between 20 per cent and 25 per cent of parents in the region do not read to their children at night - a figure replicated nationally, said the charity.
Government figures show adult literacy levels in the West Midlands are among the worst in the country.
Julia Strong, director of the campaign, said it was vital more parents did engage in reading with their offspring.
"People need to have flexible skills as the manufacturing base shifts to services in the West Midlands and they need to shift with it," she said.
"Literacy skills are increasingly important to that."
Only 41 per cent of the West Midland's adult population has the English skills expected of a 16-year-old - the third worst in the country along with the North-west.
Ms Strong warned there were increasing barriers thrown up by the fast-paced modern lifestyle which prevented children enjoying the pleasures of books.
"Go back 20 years ago and, although TV was around, now there are so many more things," she said.
"The internet, for example. It still involves reading, so it shouldn't be seen as the great enemy, but it is a different kind of reading.
"If you want people to have the rigour that is required in reading a full book, you won't get it because a lot of things are in soundbite form."
She said quick delivery of brief information typified by the internet and mobile phone text was in danger of affecting the attention span of young people.
"Everything tends to be much shorter and in sound-bites," she said.
"There is this issue of how much people are concentrating on one thing if you are being presented with things in short soundbites. People are permanently interrupted, whether it is emails or mobile phones. There is this sense of looking for diversion all the time in our lives."
Ms Strong also criticised the education system for its emphasis on exams leaving less time for youngsters to enjoy "reading for pleasure".
The National Reading Campaign, a project of the National Literacy Trust, surveyed 8,000 pupils about their attitude to reading.
Despite the youngsters being based at schools with reading projects, more than one in ten were not positive about reading.
"There is still a high number of people who say they are reading to their children every night but there tends to be about 20 to 25 per cent of people who don't," said Ms Strong.
"If you were not read to as a child yourself, why would you be very keen to do it to your child? There is a danger of it becoming a cycle of lost opportunity."
She recommended children's favourite Roald Dahl as a good start for parents and a new series of quick-read books by famous authors called First Choice.
Last weekend the National Literacy Trust launched the Premier League Reading Stars - a drive in conjunction with British football clubs using famous players to urge people to use their local libraries and read more.