Primary school pupils should also be exposed to a wide range of reading genres, and different types of reading material to help them learn to speak and write fluently, according to a new guide for teachers.
The document, published by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), sets out a number of ways that schools can help to improve children's literacy skills.
It says: "Speaking and listening are at the heart of language, not only as foundations for reading and writing, but also as essential skills for thinking and communication."
"Reading to pupils and discussing books is still important for this age group," it adds. "Exposing pupils to an increasingly wide range of texts, with an appropriate level of challenge, will develop their language capability.
"This should include active engagement with a wide range of genres and media, including digital texts."
Speaking and listening activities that can help to boost literacy skills include "reading books aloud and discussing them", the guide says.
The guidance comes after last year's tougher national curriculum, or Sats, tests, which saw a drop in the number of pupils reaching the expected standard in reading, writing and maths at the end of primary school.
Across England, 53% of youngsters achieved the expected standard in all three subjects.
The guide will be sent to every primary school in England, EEF said.
EEF chairman Sir Peter Lampl, said: "Good literacy skills provide the building blocks not just for academic success, but for fulfilling careers and rewarding lives.
"Yet despite our best efforts too many children, particularly those from poorer homes, are leaving primary school without reaching the levels in reading and writing they need to achieve."