I am really delighted that World Book Day generates so much excitement and enthusiasm. It reminds us all how brilliant reading is and I hope that it may be the beginning of a life-long love of books for all of you.

It has been a real treat for me to be here with you all today – and what makes it even more of a treat is to know that there are so many of you watching from around the world, taking part with us in this celebration of World Book Day, so that we can all enjoy the many wonderful authors and illustrators bringing their books to life.

I believe passionately in encouraging a love of reading in young people of all ages. Because reading is exciting. Reading is fun. Reading is cool. There is nothing quite like the thrill of opening a book and being drawn into another world to meet new people and to discover their stories - it’s like making new friends.

I was lucky enough to have a father who loved reading to us when we were young as I have loved reading to my children – and now to my grandchildren. The power of a gripping story and intriguing characters is immense: it transports us into different and sometimes strange worlds, and helps us to understand why people behave as they do. It is a true voyage of discovery that broadens and stimulates our minds.

When I was a child, every new book was a promise of something – mysterious – exciting - funny or sad... and that feeling has never left me. World Book Day offers millions of children that promise, with a book token that can open the door into an amazing new world.

I know there will be some who are less keen on reading than others. They may be more interested in sport or listening to music. There’ll be others who are good at maths or science and may say they don’t have time to read. I beg you to find time. No matter what your talents and interests, I promise you reading is a wonderful pleasure that I know will never leave you.

I am really delighted that World Book Day generates so much excitement and enthusiasm. It reminds us all how brilliant reading is and I hope that it may be the beginning of a life-long love of books for all of you.