CELEBRITIES have today backed the Get Oxfordshire Reading campaign.

Oxford Mail: Miriam Margoyles

MIRIAM MARGOYLES , 71, Oxford-born actress and former pupil of Oxford High School:

"I support the initiative because it will change children’s lives for the better.

"Words are the currency of thought; if people (never mind children) don’t read, they will stop being able to think, their mind will not grow and flourish, but become small, arid and stunted.

"And then the world they live in will be the same; imagination must be nourished, it is stories which feed our imagination."

Oxford Mail: Mark Haddon

MARK HADDON lives in Oxford and won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award for his novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time:

"Learning to read and to read well is a gateway to pretty much everything of real value in society.

"To turn the argument round and put the case in its simplest and most brutal form, look at the shocking levels of literacy problems in prisons and you start to realise the implications of not learning to read and not getting through that gateway.

"Learning to read and read well is not just a good thing but a basic human right."

Oxford Mail: korky paul

KORKY PAUL , illustrator, from Oxford, who is best known for the Winnie The Witch children’s books which have been published in more than 10 languages:

"First and foremost it improves and enhances their imagination.

"Second only to imagination I believe it enables children in this multicultural society we enjoy, to have better understanding and acceptance of other cultures.

"Part of encouraging your children to read is obviously to read to them from a very young age."

Oxford Mail: mini grey

Author MINI GREY , from Oxford, whose work includes Egg Drop, The Pea and the Princess and Biscuit Bear

"I support the initiative to get children reading because reading is a fantastic way to build imagination and empathy, and at the same time find out about the world.

"Reading really makes your imagination do some work."

Oxford Mail: reading campaign logo 480 pix