Literacy organisations celebrated the Duchess of Cornwall’s upcoming 70th birthday by delivering 70 primary schools a set of 70 books and specially designed bookshelves. The project was marked on Tuesday (11th July) with a Clarence House garden party, at which David Walliams appeared as a 1950s bus conductor.
The Duchess was presented with a set of the 70 books on the special ‘Duchess’s Bookshelves’ at a celebration with authors such as Malorie Blackman, Lauren Child, Cressida Cowell, Charlie Higson, Jacqueline Wilson and Walliams as well as pupils from Hemlington Hall Academy in Middlesbrough and Berkeley Primary School in Hounslow. The children and authors travelled to Clarence House in style on a vintage bus, where Walliams took on the role of bus conductor in a 1950s uniform.
The Duchess is patron of the six organisations involved: the National Literacy Trust, Beanstalk, BookTrust, First Story, Roald Dahl Literary Estate and the Wicked Young Writer Awards.
The 70 titles were chosen after primary schools across the country nominated their favourite books which have been donated by publishers ranging from older classics such as A Bear Called Paddington (HarperCollins Children’s Books) by Michael Bond and Matilda (Puffin) by Roald Dahl to new titles including Walliams' Gangsta Granny (HarperCollins Children’s Books) and Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Puffin) by Jeff Kinney.
A spokesperson for the scheme said the selected schools had demonstrated their commitment to promoting reading for enjoyment. Many are based in disadvantaged areas of the UK.
Walliams said: “I’m so thrilled when I hear that one of my books has given a child the reading bug and helped them to discover the world of books, just as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory did for me when I was young.”
Jonathan Douglas, director of the National Literacy Trust, said: “Our patron HRH the Duchess of Cornwall is passionate about children’s literacy, so what better way to celebrate this milestone birthday than by helping more children to discover the joys of reading with a special set of books.
“We hope pupils at the 70 schools who receive the bookshelves will be inspired to enjoy reading and read more widely, which our research shows has a significant impact on their attainment.”
The Duchess will turn 70 on 17th July.
To see the 70 titles selected, visit this website.