Peter Andre's Record Breaking Read
Two weeks ago thousands of parents and children gathered in Meadowhall to take part in the World Record Attempt for ‘most children reading with a single adult’ with pop star and beef cake Peter Andre and children’s author Peter J Murray.
At the event on April 13 Peter led the preliminary readings and was joined by authors who read Pete’s favourite parts of the Roald Dahl’s children’s’ classic The BFG, in a combined effort to smash the current record of 4,222 participants.
The attempt was held to encourage more parents to spend time reading with their children to help boost literacy levels. Recent statistics from the National Literacy Association revealed one in six children struggle with their reading and that 29% of adults do not believe it is their responsibility to develop their child’s reading, writing and literacy skills.*
We decided to find out why Pete was so keen to get parents reading to their children.
When you were a kid did your parents read to you?
My parents read to me but what I regret is that I didn’t read myself. We’re trying to encourage people to do that. People who don’t have kids look at me sometimes, like, ‘alright mate, you go on about the kids a lot’ but it’s only when you have children that you understand that feeling. You want them educated as best as they possibly can be and you want to try and steer them in the right direction.
Do they (his children) have a favourite book?
I’ve been reading them Mr Men books. Junior’s character is Mr Tickle and my daughter’s always Little Miss Stubborn, which she’s totally ok with. They’re starting to read to me, which is brilliant. I found it the most boring thing when I was younger but if you’ve got a creative mind it’s brilliant.
You recently launched your own range of books. Have your children read them?
My daughter absolutely loved the books. My son is more in to older books; he’s six going on 28. We released ‘Happy Birthday’ and ‘First Day at School’ and we’ve got the next lot coming out. It could be ‘Fist Day at the Dentist’ or ‘First Kiss’. It could be anything, just everyday experiences kids have. The books I wrote were based on me, my sister and my brothers as opposed to my kids.
When it’s specifically for children and they’re looking for your support does it make it easier for you to say yes?
My kids are honest. They’ll tell me straight. ‘Don’t like that, like that.’ They understand the power of reading. It’s a great bonding thing, between brother and sister, mum and dad, daughter, son and father. It’s educational; if your literacy improves then your ability to get better work improves. Finically it’s better for you in every way.
How do you find the time to write books, you’ve obviously got a tour coming up as well?
I’m very lucky and I always say thanks. I have days when I’m like ‘I can’t focus’. This morning I couldn’t focus when I got out of bed. I was disoriented. I have days like that but when I look back at it at the end of the day I’m always so grateful. They’ll come a point where I will just want to do nothing but right now I’m still only 39 so I’ll keep working and focus. As well as the children’s books I want to write a sci-fi thriller. I’m very excited about it.
Does feeling disoriented have anything to do with climbing a chocolate wall? (Pete recently overcame his fear of heights to scale a 32-foot chocolate-inspired climbing wall at Alton Towers).
(Laughing) It could have been. Do you know what’s bizarre about that chocolate wall? You get covered in chocolate but the chocolate that’s falling on you is not, you can eat it but it doesn’t taste of anything. You only get the real chocolate when you get to the bottom and they give you a treat.
What did it feel like to be named Father of the Year?
I was very grateful to be named Father of the Year twice in a row and I think this year I’ve got big competition from Gary Barlow. We’ve had this chat. He’s like (in what was meant to be Gary’s accent) ‘I’m not having you being Father of the Year again with my kids telling me, look dad you’re always runner up.’ So I said to Gary if I’m nominated and win it for the third year in a row I’ll share my award with you. Question is, if he wins it, will he mention me?
Gary’s had a second lease of life on The X Factor, is that something you’d do?
I don’t think I’d make a great judge. The job that I would love to do is something like, and I would never want to take a job away from someone, but what Dermot O’Leary does. It’s the bit between the judges and the artists. I know how it feels to get up there and actually have to sing in front of judges. I’d find it quite difficult to say to them ‘you’re no good’. I wouldn’t say ‘you’re no good’ to them but I would be biased as a judge.
What do you think of talent shows such as The Voice UK and The X Factor?
The Voice is wonderful at the moment; all four judges are right on the money. I’ve worked with Danny, from The Script, before and we wrote three tracks together. That guy is very knowledgeable about music. I like Britain’s Got Talent because it’s like the old school talent shows, you don’t just have to be a singer.
You’re coming to Sheffield in December for an intimate show. What can people expect?
We’re calling it ‘Up Close and Personal’ because we’re going to be doing some songs very acoustic and might be putting a stage towards the back of the arena. Different parts of the show are going to be very intimate.
This is a standard day for you isn’t it, breaking records?
I always get scared when I’m asked that. I’m competitive in a whole different way. I’m not competitive in the sense that I have to be the best. I’m competitive in the sense that I have to be the best I can be. I don’t ever want to be the best singer, dancer or presenter but if I’m not the best I can be that upsets me. That’s why I was a bit scared today.
The most important part of today is, get reading. Reading is no longer uncool, reading is cool. If you’ve got time to go on your I pad for about three hours playing computer games, take an hour, half an hour out, even 15 minutes, it’ll make a big difference. I’m telling them (his kids) more and more that readings not just about finding the time. It’s fun.
To find out more about Peter and his upcoming tour visit www.peterandre.com.
*(National Literacy Trust highlights book-free millions, BBC News 05.12.2011)