Princess Beatrice spoke out after it was announced she had become royal patron of Oscar’s Book Prize. The children’s book award was set up in memory of Oscar Ashton, the son of Standard columnist James Ashton.
Oscar died in 2012 aged three from an undetected heart condition, and the £5,000 award, for the best book published in 2016 for children aged five or under, honours his love of stories.
“I’ am delighted to become the Patron of Oscar’s Book Prize.
Reading stories was always a big part of my childhood; reading is one of my most incredible memories of growing up. Taking the time to read together as a family became a ritual for us and I treasure the memories created whilst poring over the pages of the books my mother would collect for us, many of which I treasure to this day.
I was diagnosed with dyslexia quite early in my childhood and it was noticeable in my reading abilities. Reading was really hard work, even trying to get through the pages of some of the simple school reading books. I could not understand why I was still reading behind my classmates. It was at this point that stories became one of the key things which inspired me. I was lucky that my mother, with her great imagination, took the time to work on these with me. By the time I read Harry Potter, aged 11, I tore through the pages of the magical books.
My mother writes children’s books and so many of the stories we discovered together came to life in the book series Little Red and through other characters she created for our bedtime stories. If my parents ever travelled they would take time to record some of my favorite books on tape and I would listen to their voices as I fell asleep. This is one of my favorite memories from story time with my parents.
During my early years my father was in the Royal Navy as a helicopter pilot and spent a lot of time at sea. To help us feel close to him, my mother was inspired to create the ‘Budgie the little Helicopter’ series based on imagining the many adventures brave helicopter pilots would face every day. To this day, these stories make me think back, with the fondest memories, to a time when books would take me into the best adventures and fill my mind with the best images.
I especially loved the Penguin Classics books as child and still treasure my collections today. I loved the illustrations and would spend ages staring at all the details captured in their pages. Their books seemed to stand the test of time and their pages still bring back memories of my sister and I playing teacher in my bedroom and reading to a few cuddly animals (and even a family pet if we could get him to sit still long enough).
I feel inspired by my parents’ passion in making reading to us a priority”