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King Philippe steps out “as a father, not as King”

King Philippe took over Queen Mathilde’s annual engagement today as he read to children during the Reading Week. This has a special reason behind it.

Each year Queen Mathilde steps out as the Patron of the Reading Week, to read a book to children in an elementary school. The initiative wants to promote reading to children as it is essential for their language development and imagination. It was King Philippe, however, who headed to elementary school “De Boomhut” in Kalmthout, Antwerp today. It was not because the Queen was occupied but because the theme of this year’s Reading Week is “reading dads.” The organisation stated that it doesn’t always have to be mothers who read to their children but that it is important that fathers do it, as well.

The children of the third year of the elementary school were very excited when they welcomed the King into their classroom. They had practised their welcoming as they all said: “Hello Sir.” King Philippe read the book De Gouden Lijst from Rindert Kromhout and Gerda Dendooven to the children. The book is about a family that receives paintings to be hung all over their house. Before starting with reading, he said: “Today I’m not King Philippe; I’m just a father.”   

His Majesty also talked about reading in his own family. It was already known that the eldest daughter of King Philippe, the Duchess of Brabant, loves to read, but there are more members of the family that like to read, as well: “At home, we read books to our children as well,” said Philippe. The King asked a couple of questions to the children and when the answer always remained “yes,” he joked: “Do you always answer with yes?” 

After the reading to the children, the King met with other fathers who follow a workshop in which they learn how to read to kids. King Philippe talked about the importance of reading once more as he said: “You create a bond with your children or grandchildren. It’s important for their imagination capacity. They won’t develop imagination capacity by playing on the computer. But by this [reading] they think about many things. It’s wonderful.”  

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