Schools Secretary Ed Balls asked parents to fill Christmas stockings full of novels, and said that kids should learn where food comes from. He also urged teachers to take kids on farm trips.
Balls suggested a return to old methods as he launched the National Year of Reading saying that bedtime stories should be a part of a child's routine just like brushing the teeth.
"Ten minutes of reading a day can make a difference to a child's future by instilling a love of books," the Sun quoted Balls, as saying.
The statement comes when a report revealed that one in five 11-year-olds failing to make the grade.
Schools minister Jim Knight said schools should have their own allotments to combat obesity. "You can change behaviour by winning hearts and minds," he said.