Author of the Emily Brown picture books Cressida Cowell named new children’s laureate

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The author of How to Train Your Dragon, the Wizard of Once series and the Emily Brown picture books has been named the children’s laureate for 2019–2021.

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Cressida Cowell is the new Waterstones children's laureate

Ms Cowell was presented with the silver laureate medal by the outgoing laureate, Lauren Child, at a ceremony at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, London today.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the medal, created by poet laureate Ted Hughes and author Michael Morpurgo to be awarded once every two years to an eminent children’s author or illustrator, honouring outstanding achievement in their field.

The award is managed by BookTrust, the UK’s largest children’s reading charity, and sponsored by Waterstones.

At the ceremony, Ms Cowell unveiled her new charter, or ‘to-do list’, advocating the right of every child to: 

  • read for the joy of it
  • access new books in schools, libraries and bookshops
  • have advice from a trained librarian or bookseller
  • own their own book
  • see themselves reflected in a book
  • be read aloud to
  • have some choice in what they read
  • be creative for at least 15 minutes a week
  • see an author event at least once
  • have a planet to read on

The author and illustrator said, 'Books and reading are magic and this magic must be available to absolutely everyone. I’m honoured to be chosen to be the eleventh Waterstones children’s laureate. I will be a laureate who fights for books and children’s interests with passion, conviction and action. Practical magic, empathy and creative intelligence is the plan.'

Kate Edwards, chair of the Waterstones children’s laureate steering group and chair of the Waterstones children’s laureate 2019–21 judging panel, said, 'Nominations for this prestigious role are invited from hundreds of literature, literacy and education organisations across the UK.

‘Cressida Cowell’s impressive canon of work, with broad reach and appeal, coupled with her impassioned advocacy for the right of every child to enjoy a childhood rich in storytelling, cemented our choice for the next Waterstones Children’s Laureate.’

Diana Gerald, chief executive of BookTrust, added, ‘Cowell is already an extraordinary advocate for children’s reading, and I have no doubt having the laureate platform will only amplify her voice to help champion children’s reading across the country and help to unlock their creativity.'

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