Memories of a book for bedtime

Most parents agree that reading to their children is one of the best parts of being a parent. As National Reading Year was launched yesterday, celebrity parents reminisced about bedtime stories.

Children's presenter Johnny Ball remembers reading to his daughter, the Radio 1 DJ Zoe Ball, when she was a child. He said: "We had loads of books, we really did collect them. We had all the Ladybird books. Our favourite was Where the Wild Things Are."

Mr Ball, who grew up during the Second World War, said he missed out on reading because of the shortage of books. "They weren't really available. I really wanted more books. The handful I did have I remember very vividly. I read a Biggles book a day and then I got into Arthur Conan Doyle."

Jeffrey Archer, who has two children, William, 25, and James, 23, said: "My oldest son was very into Just William. The other one is a prolific reader and his favourite was Alice in Wonderland. He now reads two books a week so it must have done him some good. I suppose I used to read to them for about 15 minutes a night. They always used to say 'Read it again Daddy, read it again.'"

Alan Bleasdale thinks children should read great adult books. He has three children, now aged 27, 24 and 22. "I made them all read Catch 22 to prepare them for the world," he said. "It was the one book I thought they should read."

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