Dads turn over a new leaf;Reading

26th February 1999 at 00:00
Performance poet John Hegley recently launched Reaching Parents, a nationwide campaign by libraries and businesses (Ford, Asda and the publisher Random House) to inspire parents to read to their children and enjoy books themselves.

The plans include a Kick Off! programme aimed at fathers and sons reading side-by-side, which will run in 12 library authorities in the build-up to the FA Cup Final this summer. Random House is promoting "team" booklists to appeal to younger fathers and boys - including James Ellroy, Roddy Doyle and Robert Harris for the fathers; Brian Jacques, Anthony Browne and Kate Thompson for the sons.

Hegley retains fond memories of reading with his own father. He says: "It was a very secure and intimate time. My brother's favourite was the story of a boy who ate so many gooseberries he turned into one.

"My dad would read classics such as 'King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table' and 'Robinson Crusoe'. When the books ran out he would start to make them up. I loved those stories. I'm sure that was a significant part of my development.

"It's not my perception that fathers fail to read to their children, but if this launch means one more father reads to his boy, it is worth it."

The author of "Luton Library Verses" says the Reaching Parents campaign reminds him of his busking days at the start of his career. "I would have people in the audience at Covent Garden Piazza who would never dream of going to a theatre, but they loved the show."

For details of the Kick Off booklist, contact Helen Thomas at Book Communication, 0121 246 2777

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