Oscar Ashton was three-and-a-half when he died from an undetected heart condition in December 2012. He collapsed on the journey home to London after a pre-Christmas trip to see his grandparents.
Oscar was a sunny and creative boy, with a quirky, inquiring mind and big brown eyes. He collected stones, Lego bricks and pound coins — or, as he called them, “goldens”. His imagination meant that he told stories about wolves and gold medals, and insisted that his toy penguin should come to the nativity service when all the other kids had a stuffed sheep or camel. When he was looking out of the window for shooting stars, he explained that it was “because they have fire in their tails”.
We wrestled with how to commemorate him. By launching Oscar’s Book Prize, a hunt for the best pre-school book of the year, we aimed to celebrate a child’s love for magical stories. They are the books that our son rifled through eagerly and helped to foster his vivid imagination.
Now in its fourth year, Oscar’s Book Prize it will continue to reward the brilliant creativity of early-years literature and highlight the importance of reading with children. This legacy only works if parents and the publishing industry are as passionate about it as we are.
None of this would be possible without the generous support of the London Evening Standard and our two sponsors, Amazon and the National Literacy Trust. We thank them.
James Ashton and Viveka Alvestrand (Oscar’s parents)
London, February 2017