Camilla Picks Her Favorite Children’s Books With Surprising Choices
The Duchess of Cornwall has revealed that one of her favorite books to read to her grandchildren involves a “gangster granny” who plots to steal the Queen’s Crown Jewels from the Tower of London.
Future Queen Camilla recounts her delight at seeing “their eyes widen as they begin to wonder if their own grandparents might have any interesting stories to tell”.
Camilla has five grandchildren from her two children, Laura Lopes and Tom Parker Bowles.
However, she is also the step-grandmother of Prince William and Prince Harry’s children – Prince George, Princess Charlotte, Prince Louis, Archie Mountbatten-Windsor and Lilibet Mountbatten Windsor.
Clarence House via Getty Images)
The multi-million bestselling book Gangster Granny, by David Walliams, centers on an 11-year-old boy named Ben who visits his grandmother’s house every Friday while his parents go out dancing.
At first he doesn’t like going there until he finds out his grandmother is an international jewel thief and arranges to steal the Crown Jewels from Her Majesty.
In an exclusive article for the Daily Mirror, ahead of World Book Day next Thursday, March 3, Camilla, 74, says “when you read, you understand yourself better, you understand others better and you make friends for life”.
Camilla, who this month received the Queen’s blessing to be made Queen Consort when Prince Charles takes the throne.
Her love of books led her to campaign on World Book to promote the joys of reading.
The National Literacy Trust backed Camilla’s call, with experts saying children who are most engaged in literacy are three times more likely to have higher levels of mental wellbeing than children who are least engaged (39 .4% versus 11.8%).
Camilla added: “I still remember the intense excitement I felt as a child when choosing books to buy with my pocket money and the joy of knowing that those precious books, clutched tightly in my hands were mine.”
Over the past 25 years, an average of over 2 million £1 books have been distributed each year on World Book Day.
For more information, visit www.worldbookday.com
“Books need all the help they can get”
By Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall
I can still remember the intense excitement I felt as a child when choosing books to buy with my pocket money – Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty, Baroness Orczy’s Scarlet Pimpernel, Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons – and the joy of knowing that these precious books, tightly held in my hands, were mine.
It is this joy that, for 25 years, World Book Day has sought to bring to children in the UK and Ireland.
For a quarter of a century, the first Thursday in March has seen millions of £1 book tokens distributed to schools and nurseries.
Much like the “golden tickets” in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, these vouchers offer recipients never-before-seen adventures – not only through rivers of chocolate, but also through cupboards, rabbit holes and the misty streets of Victorian London.
As it celebrates the past, present and future of reading in this milestone anniversary year, the charity’s goal is for everyone to see themselves as a reader.
World Book Day has become, for many, the anniversary of their passion for reading.
Reading for pleasure is, as we know, the biggest indicator of a child’s future success – more so than their family situation, their parents’ level of education or their income.
And yet, there are still around 400,000 children in our country who do not have a book of their own.
Recent research from a range of education experts and organizations shows that some students start secondary school at a reading age of 6.
In 2019, a survey conducted by the National Literacy Trust (of which I am very proud patron) reported that only a quarter of 8-18 year olds read daily.
And research by children’s publisher Farshore found the majority of boys and more than half of girls across all age groups said they preferred spending time on their screens to reading.
So books need all the help they can get in our multimedia age.
World Book Day is a great way to prove how much fun and escape a good book can bring.
And it works – 50% of primary school children who participated in World Book Day, sharing their favorite stories and sometimes dressing up as their favorite characters, read more books as a result.
With the increasingly diverse selection of literature on offer, kids armed with their magic book tokens will be able to find a book that both reflects their own experiences and gives them perspective on those of others.
After all, when you read, you understand yourself better, you understand others better, and you make friends for life.
This World Book Day, please take your children and grandchildren to the nearest bookstore to get the explorations started.
As Willy Wonka writes on his golden tickets: “I shake your hand warmly!
Extraordinary things are in store for you! Beautiful surprises await you!” – surprises, he would have added, that are only possible between the covers of a book.
Camilla’s favorite books
Here are some of my own favorite books to read to my grandchildren.
You can find more recommendations – including several from some rather special friends and family – on my Instagram site @duchessofcornwallsreadingroom.
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
I loved it like a pony-crazed kid, and at my age I still love it. Written in 1877 from Black Beauty’s own perspective, it tells the story of her life, from colt to retirement.
The Explorer by Katherine Rundell
A wildly exciting, witty and thought-provoking book that had my grandchildren and I on the edge of our seats from the first page to the last…
Gangsta Granny by David Walliams
This is a truly wonderful book to share with your grandchildren – you can see their eyes widen as they start to wonder if their own grandparents might have some interesting stories to tell…
When Hitler Stole Judith Kerr’s Pink Rabbit
A semi-autobiographical classic, in print for over 50 years, about a Jewish family fleeing Nazi Germany. Judith Kerr, best known for ‘The Tiger Who Came for Tea’, died just over two years ago. Michael Morpurgo, himself accustomed to powerful storytelling, called it “the most rewarding book you could ever wish to read”.