BookTrust extends Waterstones Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell’s tenure until 2022

BookTrust, the UK’s largest children’s reading charity, has today announced the extension of Cressida Cowell’s tenure as Waterstones Children’s Laureate by an additional 12 months. The bestselling author and illustrator of the How to Train Your Dragon and The Wizards of Once series will continue in the role until June 2022.

In response to the exceptional circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic, the decision to extend Cressida’s tenure to three years will ensure that the ambitions laid out at the start of her tenure can become a reality and make a tangible difference to children’s lives.

On appointment, Cressida unveiled her Laureate Charter with the message that the magic of books and reading must urgently be available to absolutely everyone with plans to campaign for statutory school libraries and helping develop children’s creative intelligence, and has since been working behind the scenes to bring this ‘magical to-do list’ to life with new projects.

Last month, as the UK went into lockdown, Cressida launched with BookTrust a new digital hub – BookTrust HomeTime – to entertain children and families to enjoy book-related activities at home with drawing lessons, competitions, quizzes and readings – including daily reading of the very first How to Train Your Dragon from Cressida’s writing shed.

Cressida Cowell, Waterstones Children’s Laureate (2019-2022), said: Thank you to BookTrust for extending my Laureateship so that we can take this time to adapt our plans in progress to best face this challenging moment. It is when times are hardest that we need the transformative magic of books and creativity the most. To bring books into the hands of each and every child in the U.K. is going to require some practical magic and action. I’m delighted to have this extra year to bring these plans to life.”

Jill Coleman, Director of Children’s Books at BookTrust, said: “Anyone who has met Cressida, listened to her talk or read one of her books, will know she is a true force for reading magic. This additional year as Waterstones Children’s Laureate will allow us all to do justice to Cressida’s boundless creativity, enthusiasm and determination, and create a legacy that will change children’s lives.”

Michael Morpurgo, who originally created the Children’s Laureate role along with Ted Hughes, said: “At this time more than any other I have known we need a Children’s Laureate with heart and hope, and we have just who we need in Cressida. I’m so pleased she is happy to extend her time as Laureate. Roar on, Cressida. We need you. Dragons rule!”

Kate Edwards, Chair of the Waterstones Children’s Laureate Steering Group, said: “Cressida’s energy and passion has resulted in an ambitious agenda, and we are delighted that her tenure as the Waterstone’s Children’s Laureate will extend for a further year. On behalf of the Steering Group I would like to wholeheartedly thank Cressida and everyone involved in making her Laureateship a success.”

This marks the first time in the twenty-year legacy of the Children’s Laureate that the role has been extended beyond two years. Historically, it has been awarded biennially to a leading children’s author or illustrator to honour outstanding achievement in their field.

The ‘League of Laureates’ – including Quentin Blake, Malorie Blackman and Jacqueline Wilson – are the foremost representatives of children’s literature, showcasing the extraordinary and dynamic art form and its rich contribution to UK culture.

For further information regarding the Waterstones Children’s Laureate please contact: [email protected]

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