E-readers and tablet computers encourage youngsters to read, a survey of parents suggests.

It reveals that parents believe that these gadgets help capture children's interest in books.

Just under half of the 500 parents questioned by the Reading Agency said they think electronic items such as Kindles, Sony Readers and iPads encourage their sons and daughters to read more.

One in four (26%) said they have bought their children electronic reading aids, with a further 16% saying they have either paid for, or let their youngsters use their e-readers and tablet computers.

But less than two thirds (61%) of those polled said that they have registered their child at the local library, or borrowed books for them to read.

Three quarters (76%) said that they encourage their children to read by getting them to read aloud to family members, while almost four fifths (79%) said they buy books, comics and magazines.

And more than half (58%) said they make sure that their child sees them and other adults reading.

The poll comes as the Reading Agency launches its 2012 Summer Reading Challenge.

The challenge, which kicks off this weekend, encourages four to 11-year-olds to read six books of their choice from their local library during the summer holidays.

Children earn stickers for the books they read, and get a certificate or medal for completing the challenge.

Children's Laureate Julia Donaldson said: "The Summer Reading Challenge brings together two of my favourite things - reading and libraries.

"It's free, it's a fun thing to do in the summer holidays and it's going to create lots of life-long readers."

Reading Agency chief executive Miranda McKearney, said; "We must not deny a single child the library's help - children who use libraries are twice as likely to be above average readers.

"No home library can ever provide the rich reading support on offer in public libraries. Let's make this summer one about building a fairer society by introducing every family to libraries' vibrant, motivating support to help turn children into readers for life."

The Ipsos MORI poll questioned 504 parents of primary school children between 29 June and 4 July.