Stars open up on the books that enchanted

13th February 1998 at 00:00
Nadene Ghouri reports on a campaign that delves into celebrity childhood shelves for inspiration.

Geri Spice, Liam Gallagher and Peter Mandelson may seem to have little in common. But it turns out all three shared the same childhood fantasy - visiting Narnia, the magical land in C S Lewis's classic children's story The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Liam says it's the best book he's ever read, Geri (aka Ginger) said it made her cry and Mandy claims to have read it twice. What's more, all three have been recruited to share their childhood memories in order to encourage more children to take up reading.

The trio are among a collection of celebrities recruited to promote World Book Day on April 23. The organisers hope role models from the worlds of television, sport, pop and politics will persuade children, particularly boys, to read for fun.

In a specially commissioned Pounds 1 book - The Children's Book of Books - children can discover what their favourite star's favourite stories and poems are. The organisers hope the book will encourage children to then go and read the whole text.

Spokesperson Liz Sich said: "The book shows that everyone reads and reading is enjoyed by people children look up to and admire. It's a book which children of all ages can dip into and get inspiration from.

"We hope it will encourage them to read books and authors they might not have tried before."

Other celebrities in the book likely to have genuine role model appeal include Jarvis Cocker of Britpop band Pulp who chose The Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier - the story of a real-life account of four children in Nazi Poland. Apparently Jarvis liked "doing all the foreign accents" out loud in class.

Actor Stephen Fry and Alex Ferguson, manager of Manchester United, both chose Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island.

And DJ Chris Evans, together with Clare Short MP, singled out Black Beauty by Anna Sewell.

Among leading political figures, Tony Blair's favourite was Tolkein's Lord of the Rings, whereas David Blunkett remembers how White Fang - Jack London's story of an orphaned wolf cub's fight for survival - taught him a life-long lesson about "the cruelty of man and the majesty of animal life".

But it is yet to be seen whether Jeffrey Archer's choice of The Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Andersen (because he proved "you don't have to be a great writer to be a good storyteller") will set the kids alight.

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