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The Duchess of Cornwall attends Booktrust's 20th anniversary

13th June 2012

The Duchess of Cornwall's skills as a storyteller were in high demand with a group of young listeners today.

Her Royal Highness's rendition of her favourite children's book was a hit with three and four-year-olds who shouted at her "again" and "again" when she had finished.

The Duchess narrated New Zealand author Lynley Dodd's Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy, a story about the adventures of a hairy dog, as part of the 20th anniversary celebrations of the Bookstart reading programme.

The Duchess is Patron of the reading and writing charity Booktrust which runs the Bookstart project which provides free books to young people.

A host of names from the world of children's literature were guests at the event celebrating the programme with famous names including BBC 6 Music presenter Lauren Laverne, singer Cerys Matthews, former children's presenter Floella Benjamin and author Margaret Drabble.

Sat amongst the youngsters from a primary school and children's centre, at the exclusive venue of Kensington's Roof Gardens in central London, The Duchess read to the hushed audience, raising and lowering her voice and putting on voices.

At the end when she closed the picture book a little boy called out "read it again" and many of the other children joined in but she had to leave to join the adults at a reception in another part of the gardens.

Lauren Laverne also read to the children and described the importance of introducing her sons, aged and four and one, to books: "My kids love books, we love reading together. It's a real pleasure reading aloud to them, there's a lot of pleasure for both of you.

"It doesn't have to be a chore, if it is you're probably reading the wrong thing."

Bookstart provides free books to babies, toddlers and three-year-olds and during the past 20 years has gifted 30 million books to parents to read to their children.

Gruffalo author and Children's Laureate Julia Donaldson was also part of the celebrations, reading a poem based around her favourite books, which included Winnie the Pooh and Jane Eyre.