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Wednesday, 11 July, 2001, 08:11 GMT 09:11 UK
Prince battles video games
Video games: "Immediate gratification"
The Prince of Wales has called for lottery money to be used to tempt children back to books, theatre and the arts - and away from their computer games.

"One of the great battles we face today is to persuade our children away from the computer games towards what can only be described as worthwhile books," he said.

Prince Charles spoke of the need to "expand the minds and fire the imagination" of children.

"None of us can underestimate the importance of books in an age dominated by the computer screen and the constant wish for immediate gratification," he added.

Salman Rushdie
Salman Rushdie: Book project "worth 10 Millennium Domes"
The prince was speaking at a reception hosted by the Millennium Commission at the British Museum in London to recognise a project that distributes literary classics to school libraries.

He called for the scheme to be extended to the performing arts.

"Why can't the Millennium Commission or the lottery think about an even more imaginative scheme which would enable many more children to witness the best theatre, music and other performing arts?" he said.

'Amazing value'

"We have got the money through the lottery, I think many new generations of schoolchildren would be allowed access.

"Just allow them to experience it."

Author Salman Rushdie, who was at the event, said: "Now that Harry Potter has taught the nation to read again, maybe they will read something else - next step Tolstoy.

George Orwell
Orwell's 1984 is one of the books distributed
"To have a project like this is amazing value - it's worth 10 Millennium Domes at a fraction of the price."

Chris Smith MP, former culture secretary,, pointed out afterwards that the government was to spend 40m on a scheme similar to the prince's.

"It is all about getting the performing arts organisations working together with the schools," said Mr Smith.

The event at the British Museum marked the completion of the Everyman Millennium Library project, which distributed free copies of 250 classic novels - from George Orwell's 1984 to Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez - to 4,500 secondary schools.

See also:

11 Jul 01 | New Media
Reading between the lines
07 Sep 00 | UK
Kids zapped by game bug
29 Apr 00 | Education
Video games 'valid learning tools'
23 Apr 00 | Health
Video games 'increase aggression'
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