The results suggest that learning to read at an early age has ramifications far beyond simple literacy.

London - Children should be taught to read by acting out plays to make the process enjoyable, the Children's Laureate has suggested.

Julia Donaldson said reading aloud in class is too “wooden” to interest today's children in books, and that it makes them feel like they are being tested.

Donaldson, who wrote The Gruffalo said that during school visits, she takes groups of six pupils aside and gives them the chance to swap characters, before finally casting the “play” to be read to the rest of the class.

“It can develop children's reading” as well as build confidence, Mrs Donaldson said.

Today, she launches a new series of short plays written for schools, featuring work by authors such as Vivian French, Alison Hawes, Steve Skidmore and Steve Barlow. - The Independent