Princess Beatrice writes of overcoming dyslexia to fall in love with reading

Princess Beatrice has become royal patron of Oscar’s Book Prize, and has written about her battle with dyslexia and how her parents helped develop her love of reading.

Oscar’s Book Prize is an annual prize for the best under-fives book of the year. It is awarded in memory of Oscar Ashton – son of Standard columnist James Ashton – and in partnership with Amazon, the London Evening Standard and the National Literacy Trust. In 2017, Beatrice has become royal patron of Oscar’s Book Prize, after helping to judge the prize in 2016.

On World Book Day yesterday, Beatrice wrote about her love of reading and her battle with dyslexia for the Standard.

    “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.”

[Standard]

“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.” I connect with this so much!

I was diagnosed with dyslexia when I was in second grade – I had to go to a special instructor after school to get help, and when taking tests I had to go to a special room where the teacher would read the questions to me. There were some pretty embarrassing moments which came from it, including when one teacher in third grade asked me to help another kid read and I made up some excuse about not being able to because I couldn’t find my glasses. It was terrible.

It wasn’t until I found Harry Potter that any book or story captured my attention enough to get me to read.

I actually connected to quite a bit of what Beatrice wrote here. Hopefully by speaking about her dyslexia, Beatrice helps some kids out there who are battling their own dyslexia demons.

34 Comments on Princess Beatrice writes of overcoming dyslexia to fall in love with reading

  1. Birdy
    March 3, 2017 at 1:02 am (5 months ago)

    Great write up thanks. I have 2 dyslexic kids and I can really relate to this. And JKR has a lot of parents grateful for her stories which have inspired a generation.

    I get the feeling that despite all the negatives Andrew and Fergie are great parents.

  2. Red Snapper
    March 3, 2017 at 1:34 am (5 months ago)

    I approve of anyone who encourages reading and literacy. Love of reading is one of the best and most valuable gifts a person can give another.

  3. Sophia Pitt
    March 3, 2017 at 1:37 am (5 months ago)

    Thank you KMR, very insightful and interesting blog.
    What a wonderful piece Beatrice has written.
    It is terrific that her mum worked with Beatrice, even how she described listening to the reading tapes, that is just amazing.
    When my children were little we use to get into bed at night and I would read to them, from when they were tiny. They still have that memory today. My son is still an avid reader, as I. My daughter now struggles with reading due to cognitive deficits from her illness, which is a very cruel thing. I have got her the Harry Potter reading CD’s which she adores, she loves the Harry P, trilogy.
    For me every chance I get I am reading a book, magazine, crossword or word searches for that matter.
    I use it as a form of escape and it really does the trick at the time, as for me it temporarily stops my brain from going to places that I don’t want it to be and is a great reprieve, if that makes sense.
    It really opens up a whole new world. I have never been to book club and that is on the to do list when I have some free time.
    I have always admired the natural ability of book writing, any sort of writing, it really is a gift.
    I agree with Birdy, aside from anything it always stood out to me that both parents have brought up two lovely girls. With no show of nasty behavior they always seemed united in doing the best for there daughters.

    • notasugarhere
      March 3, 2017 at 10:10 am (5 months ago)

      I agree. Whatever else Andrew and Fergie did, they did a good job with Beatrice and Eugenie.

      Did she listen to the Stephen Fry or Jim Dale versions? Love Fry’s performances, and Jim Dale (of the HP audiobooks) is an amazing audio book performer. Now that HP is done, he has started recording other things.

      Tim Curry was great with the Lemony Snicket books. Have you tried her on the Golden Compass trilogy? Those are full-cast audio, including the author who plays a role. When she’s older, Ari/Ariadne Meyers (from the old tv show Kate & Allie) is also a great teen audio book performer.

      • JET Texas
        March 3, 2017 at 11:09 am (5 months ago)

        My all time favorite is Christopher Plumber’s narration of Alice in Wonderland. I just finished reading that to my 5 year old, and I realized I was imitating all of his voices, badly. 🙂

      • Sophia Pitt
        March 3, 2017 at 11:25 am (5 months ago)

        Thank you, she hasn’t listened to them. But that is something to work on a great idea.
        I didn’t realize they were available.

        • notasugarhere
          March 4, 2017 at 4:42 pm (5 months ago)

          There are also award lists published each year, from places like Audible and library associations as to the best audio books of the year. Another place to find more good books!

  4. rhiannon
    March 3, 2017 at 5:43 am (5 months ago)

    I’ve always considered reading as a one of my great loves. It has provided me strength, security and also the ability to transport myself into a different place.

    I am so glad that you both got the support you needed. It takes a lot of courage to share your experience.

  5. Laura
    March 3, 2017 at 7:08 am (5 months ago)

    I love reading I always have and am grateful that my parents and grandmothers instilled it in me as well.
    I like the fact that Beatrice’s parents recorded their voices reading the stories when they were away. That shows thought. The playing teachers together as sisters. Those two York girls are close.
    It is good to see Beatrice share her vulnerabilities and the Oscar’s Book Prize is lucky to have Beatrice as their patron. I like the fact that her and Eugenie choose charities and organisations and then give reasons why. It helps make more personal. I am surprised reading this why Beatrice did not train to become a primary school teacher. Thank you KMR, for sharing this.

  6. Indiana Joanna
    March 3, 2017 at 8:07 am (5 months ago)

    Beatrice and Eugenie come across as warm and open as public figures. Bea is a terrific spokeswoman and patron for love of reading. Her speech was very well written and memorable.

    I too have depended so much on reading as a refuge throughout my life.

  7. Kris
    March 3, 2017 at 8:10 am (5 months ago)

    I really like how personally Beatrice connected with this charity. I am not sure how to put it, but I think that doing this shows so much appreciation for her struggles and the help she had to overcome them. And then trying to share that growth with others is such a great thing to do.

  8. Kitty
    March 3, 2017 at 9:28 am (5 months ago)

    The comments on DM are so cruel. What is wrong with some people?

    • Kimothy
      March 3, 2017 at 10:04 am (5 months ago)

      Like Herazeus said, the public has been programed for over 20 years to think that Andrew and Fergie are such awful people, that their daughters must be just as bad and have no redeeming qualities. (I’m paraphrasing here.) Sadly, they (the public) believe the media and just assume the worst of the York family. Sad, IMO.

  9. Kimothy
    March 3, 2017 at 10:19 am (5 months ago)

    I’ve always been a bookworm. From learning how to read via the comics in the newspaper as a kid (Garfield and For Better or For Worse were some of my favorites!) to The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein touching me (and even more so as I’ve gotten older), The Bernstein Bears teaching me, The Baby-Sitters Club series becoming my portable BFFs during my awkward middle school years (Mary Anne and Stacey were my faves!), to wanting to live in the fictitious Sweet Valley, California and become friends with the Wakefield Twins and their gang, to reading being the only activity I could do in those months leading up to my transplant, books have been my lifesaver and escape.

    As an adult, I’ve got two covered bookshelves, am always reading more than one book at a time and am constantly re-reading favorites! I now love the Harry Potter series, Christian Fiction novels, Phillippa Gregory’s historical fiction (The Other Boleyn Girl was soooo good!!), the good ole’ Baby Sitters Club downloaded onto my Nook for pure nostalgia purposes plus other odds and ends.

    I love that Beatrice is so involved with a patronage that has touched and affected her personally. Her speech was sweet and had great personal touches and I loved the little nuggets about Andrew and Sarah as parents (and them recording books for the girls to listen to while they were away was incredibly thoughtful). It sets my teeth on edge as to how much the media has sh!t on the girls to program the public to think negatively about them. Are Andrew and Sarah perfect? Heck no but I *do* think they did some things right, including the raising of their daughters and that they never dragged each other (or their children) through the mud and created a media circus during their divorce. That speaks volumes to me.

    Okay, done with my mini rant and well done to Princess Beatrice!

    P.S. Princess Eugenie is patron of the hospital that did the surgery to correct her scoliosis!

    • Overit
      March 3, 2017 at 2:01 pm (5 months ago)

      OMG! I used to love Sweet Valley High books. I had totally forgotten about them until you mentioned them. Ahhh nostalgia 🙂

      • Laura
        March 3, 2017 at 2:12 pm (5 months ago)

        I liked the Babysitter club books too.

      • Kimothy
        March 3, 2017 at 3:11 pm (5 months ago)

        Okay Overit, confession time: were you a Jessica or an Elizabeth? LOL! 😉

        On paper, Elizabeth was the “better” twin but honestly, there were times when I sympathized with Jessica and I LOVED the SV Magna books that traced their ancestors! I especially loved Lila’s family tree stories! LOTS of great, strong women with very romantic leading men! **swoons**

        Any favorite books? Did you ever read Sweet Valley Twins or Sweet Valley University? I did! I tried reading “Senior Year” but ugh, I just couldn’t get into it! And don’t get me started on Sweet Valley Confidential omg that sucked so bad! I am so glad I checked it out of the library instead of buying it! Jessica broke the ultimate rule in sisterhood: don’t EVER steel your sister’s man, especially when she’s engaged marry him! Tood was such a wuss. I much preferred Jeffrey French (from SVH) or Tom Watts (SVU).

        Though, looking at the books with a 30-something year old’s eye, they acted more like they were in their 30s than Sweet 16!

        • Miss K
          March 3, 2017 at 5:40 pm (5 months ago)

          Y’all are my kindred spirits! I remember reading Babysitter’s Club and Sweet Valley High. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a book worm. For every book that I’m reading, I have at least another 5 waiting to be read. And that doesn’t even consider the fact that I’m reading 3+ books at the same time. I actually wear contacts because of my love of reading. I used to want to read past my bedtime, but I didn’t want my parents to know. So I’d turn the lights off and read using the night light. It’s VERY BAD for your eyes! The library in Beauty and the Beast? BOOK GOALS! I have 2 bookcases full in our condo and I still have piles of books lying around. Boyfriend says we need to put them in storage for the time being. *insert sad face* Reading is my escape. It’s my me time. It’s my zen time. And I love discovering new books. The goodreads website has been a great help in helping me discover new authors. Can you tell I love to read? LOL! I could go on forever about reading!

          • Herazeus
            March 3, 2017 at 5:59 pm (5 months ago)

            Lol Miss K. You and i are twinsies. Bad eyesight from reading in poor light, book goals from Beauty and the beast and having so many books at home that i worry that i’m actually living in a library. 😊

          • Miss K
            March 3, 2017 at 6:46 pm (5 months ago)

            Herazeus, worry?!!? No such thing!

          • Kimothy
            March 3, 2017 at 7:20 pm (5 months ago)

            Yes! I totally want the library from Beauty & the Beast!! I even refer to myself as a bookworm in my Facebook bio!! 😀

            Who were your favorite BSC members? Least favorite? Any favorite SV characters?

            What kinds of books do you like to read (genre and whatnot)? Maybe we can start giving each other recommendations! (As long as it’s okay with you, KMR 😉 ).

  10. Fifi
    March 3, 2017 at 10:36 am (5 months ago)

    Beatrice deserves praise for honesty about her dyslexia, doing much to demystify it and encourage programs to deal with it.

    I’m also a big reader. (Kimothy: The Giving Tree still brings tears whenever I re-read it.). Though I sometimes worry that books will take over my house, I can’t do without them. My idea of hell is being in a long line with nothing to read.

    • Kimothy
      March 3, 2017 at 12:16 pm (5 months ago)

      Fifi,

      While at the transplant games last summer, at the donor tribute ceremony, they had a donor family member from various teams read a portion of the book to those in attendance. As soon as the first few sentences were spoken, I knew what was being read to us and grinned.

      The donor tribute ceremony is a way for we recipients to honor our donors, both living and deceased. It is a lovely service and each one is a bit different. Next year’s games (in Salt Lake City) will have 2 donor tribute ceremonies! One for each type of donor. Why? Merging the two has been a bit difficult and apparently, those from each side have wanted a ceremony of their own. 🙂

      • Fifi
        March 3, 2017 at 2:49 pm (5 months ago)

        How wonderful!

  11. jenny
    March 3, 2017 at 11:06 am (5 months ago)

    Beatrice has taken her overcoming of a personal challenge to help others. That is a brave and caring thing to do.

    The speech was so touching. I love how she talks of her parents — especially, her Mum’s creativity in creating stories for her children.

    Most of us here have mentioned how important reading is to us. The earliest memories for many include a parent reading to them. That inspires loves of the written word, which hopefully stays with people for life.

    I think Beatrice deserves praise for her willingness to share her “story” with others. I think PA and Fergie deserve applause for some very good parenting, too!

    P.S. I just changed my email address during the login process. I hope that is ok to do. I am not using the other account anymore.

  12. JET Texas
    March 3, 2017 at 11:20 am (5 months ago)

    As a librarian by training, I can say authoritatively that reading is crucial to children’s development. The trouble today is engaging boys.

    I love reading to my girls. And I didn’t realize until I was older just how many of my favorite stories were from British authors. My kids love the Giant Jam Sandwich, the Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Alice in Wonderland, the Secret Garden. We also love the Harry McClary books by Linley Dodd (New Zeland). If I ever get a black cat, I’m naming it Slinky Malinky!

    At 5 and 2, my girls are too young so many books. Someday we will hit The Dark is Rising series, the Narnia series, Harry Potter (naturally), and Tolkien. But the series I can’t wait to read with them, even more than Harry Potter, is the Redwall series. Brian Jacques has an unparalleled imagination. I’d visit Salamandastron before Hogwarts.

  13. Katie
    March 3, 2017 at 2:24 pm (5 months ago)

    William and Kate are coming to Poland! I am so excited. I will definitely try to see them and make photos.

    • Sonia
      March 3, 2017 at 4:04 pm (5 months ago)

      Omg KMR are they really coming to Poland ?? When?

  14. Ellie
    March 3, 2017 at 4:43 pm (5 months ago)

    I’m always happy to hear what Beatrice and Eugenie are doing. They seem like sweet, well grounded young women, especially Beatrice. Good on her.

  15. dichesschicana
    March 5, 2017 at 9:35 am (5 months ago)

    Ehh some of the press tried to make The York gals recent charity work seem as a type ‘revenge” thing towards the Queen for not giving them one of her former patronages earlier, typical of the press.

    and I’ve always love Bea’s speeches and drive toward her charity work

  16. mary elizabeth
    March 6, 2017 at 6:44 pm (5 months ago)

    Beatrice has overcome her issues and is now eager to make sure that others can too.
    I loved her speech and think her parents did a wonderful job encouraging her THe fact that they taped readings for her when they knew they were going away speaks volumes about their positive parenting.

    Anytime children can be encouraged to read is special. How wonderful it is for parents and children to share in the love of books. I’m so glad this post is here. Congrats to Beatrice for her hard work. And, compliments to Andrew and Fergie, too!