Every eight-year-old in England should be enrolled at their local library, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan says.
Launching a new literacy "mission", Mrs Morgan also announced plans to create at least 200 new book clubs in England.
Mrs Morgan has enrolled children's author David Walliams to add his weight to her pledge to "make our young people the most literate in Europe".
But critics said government cuts meant many libraries had closed or had been forced to reduce their opening times.
Lauren Smith, from the group Voices for the Library, said the closure of libraries meant many services were "completely inaccessible" to children.
"Libraries have been massively underfunded for a very long time, which is the result of the government refusing to acknowledge the educational role of libraries," she said.
"It does stagger me that politicians are placing responsibility for literacy away from themselves and local authorities and on to parents - who are trying their best for their children - and on to library services which have been trying to do this for years without enough money."
Mrs Morgan said the government was giving funding to the Reading Agency to extend its Chatterbooks reading club scheme and to set up new book clubs in 200 more primary schools in England.
The Department for Education will also support the Reading Agency to work with schools and get more Year 3 pupils (aged 7-8) enrolled at their local library.
It said this would help "more get into the library habit early".
Mrs Morgan said: "No matter where they live or what their background, every single child in this country deserves the opportunity to read, to read widely, and to read well - it's a simple matter of social justice.
"Our reforms have already helped tens of thousands more pupils to leave primary school as confident readers but we must go further.
"That's why I am pleased to team up with David on this national mission to make our young people the most literate in Europe."
David Walliams added: "Books fire children's imaginations like nothing else can.
"In a world of the constant distractions of television and computer games, it is more important than ever to encourage youngsters to read."