Reading to children at bedtime is dying out because parents are too busy, a new survey reveals.
A poll of 3,000 parents found that only one in five tell bedtime stories every night – despite them believing it's an important time to bond with their children and to fuel their imaginations.
Experts said some parents dreaded reading because they lacked confidence in their own abilities, while others opted out because of a shortage of time.
A third of mums and dads said they prefer socialising with their friends to reading with their kids.
And half of mums blamed their own poor imagination while one in 10 men admitted their reading skills embarrassed them.
Around 15 per cent of women said they only read to their children once every two months, while 11 per cent of men said they never did it.
Of those who do read to their children, 75 per cent said it was the most stressful activity in their day and it came last on a long list of other priorities including work, household chores, shopping and socialising. And 65 per cent said they wished they had more time for bedtime stories.
The research, found that 17 per cent admitted they'd rather put their child in front of the television than read them a book.
Despite this, 40 per cent of mothers feel guilty when they don't have time to read to their children.
Almost a third of parents admitted that they haven't read a book in the last year, and despite extensive schooling a staggering 23 per cent of children haven't managed to finish an entire book in the last twelve months.
Child psychologists warn that reading is crucial for child development and a lack of reading can impair language growth, literacy and social skills development.
They say: "People need to think about (bedtime stories) as a fundamental aspect of how they raise their children."
It doesn't have to be regimented and scheduled for every night, but I do think a lot of children and parents look forward to that as a special moment in the day.
"Find a time that fits in with your daily routine."