Princess Beatrice has revealed how discovering Harry Potter inspired her to read despite her dyslexia.
In a specially recorded video to be shown at the Evening Standard’s literacy festival in Trafalgar Square, the princess said she found it difficult to sit down with a good book before hitting upon the JK Rowling stories, which transformed her relationship with reading.
Beatrice is the latest personality to announce her support for the free Get Reading Festival organised alongside NOOK on July 13.
The dazzling festival will take over Trafalgar Square and turn the area into a magical reading extravaganza to celebrate books and inspire children to read.
A host of stars will appear at the festival, including actors Rupert Everett, Warwick Davis and David Harewood, children’s laureate Malorie Blackman and author Anthony Horowitz.
Princess Beatrice will read a chapter of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone via video.
She said: “When I was younger I was diagnosed with dyslexia which meant, for me, sitting in front of a book was really hard. Until I discovered Harry Potter, and this character, this 11-year-old boy, who suddenly gets off to school for the first time, captured my imagination and suddenly reading was fun!”
Today the Evening Standard can reveal the first glimpse of how Trafalgar Square will be transformed for the festival. A large stage will be set up in front of Nelson’s Column with a bright backdrop of shelves of children’s books and toys. Guest readers will sit on a bright red chair on stage to read to the children and families.
Two big screens on either side of the stage show the text being read aloud so the audience can follow it.
Hip hop artist Akala and illustrator Chris Riddell will also appear at the festival to help celebrate the launch of the Reading Agency’s Summer Reading Challenge. The programme encourages children to read six books over the summer holidays from their local library. The theme this year, illustrated by Chris Riddell, is “Creepy House”.
The latest additions to the line-up announced yesterday include actor Nicholas Briggs, who is the voice of the Daleks, and actress Melanie La Barrie, who plays Phelps the librarian in the Matilda musical.
There will also be a reading from the musical Wicked and a performance from the Sylvia Young theatre school.
The Get London Reading campaign has raised more than £1mn to fund volunteers to mentor schoolchildren who are falling behind with reading. The volunteers are recruited and trained by Beanstalk, formerly Volunteer Reading Help.