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Princess Beatrice praises her mother on school visit to read prize-winning book

Princess Beatrice reads to pupils at West Thornton Primary School in Croydon as part of Oscar’s Book Club (Aaron Chown/ PA Media Assignments)
Princess Beatrice reads to pupils at West Thornton Primary School in Croydon as part of Oscar’s Book Club (Aaron Chown/ PA Media Assignments)

Princess Beatrice praised her mother, Sarah, Duchess of York, as she read an award-winning picture book to pupils at a primary school in south London.

Beatrice, 35, said she “grew up with an incredible mum” as she reflected on the importance of storytelling for young people and their development during a visit to West Thornton Primary School in Croydon.

The royal read from the picture book When Dinosaurs Walked The Earth, written by Sean Taylor and illustrated by Zehra Hicks, which topped the Oscar’s Book Prize shortlist this year.

Beatrice, who is the prize’s royal patron, said: “I grew up with an incredible mum, as a children’s author, so stories really created that sense of imagination.

“I really appreciate what stories can do, that special quality time, that moment at the end of the day, but also how important it is for reading in general for young people to make sure that we can do everything we can to make sure that these books really get into the hands of those that need it most.”

Princess Beatrice Oscar’s Book Prize
Princess Beatrice with pupils at West Thornton Primary School in Croydon (Aaron Chown/ PA Media Assignments)

Jonathan Owen, headteacher at West Thornton Primary School, said: “So much can be taught from picture books and we make sure our children are exposed to a wide range of stories from the very beginning of their school journey.

“One of our school priorities is to ensure that proficient reading skills and a love of reading underpin all learning across our curriculum.

“We carefully select texts that both faithfully represent our diverse community and serve to broaden children’s imagination.

“The diversity of topics covered in children’s books is greater than ever, and those shortlisted for this year’s Oscar’s Book Prize were no exception to that.

Princess Beatrice Oscar’s Book Prize
Princess Beatrice reads to pupils (Aaron Chown/ PA Media Assignments)

“We have loved reading them together and it was an absolute delight to have HRH Princess Beatrice visit and read this year’s winning book – it certainly will be a story time to remember.”

The visit also celebrated the recent launch of Oscar’s Book Club, which has seen award supporter Amazon donate this year’s shortlisted books to schools and nurseries across the country with a team of volunteers supporting on the ground with group reading sessions.

Oscar’s Book Prize is an annual prize for the best illustrated book for young children, founded by the parents of Oscar Ashton, who died in 2012 of an undiagnosed heart condition aged three-and-a-half.