Cressida Cowell Announced as New Waterstones Children’s Laureate

Cressida Cowell, the international bestselling author and illustrator of the How to Train Your Dragon and The Wizards of Once series and the author of the Emily Brown picture books all published by Hachette Children’s Group has today been crowned the Waterstones Children’s Laureate 2019– 2021.

Cowell was presented with the iconic silver Laureate medal by the outgoing Waterstones Children’s Laureate, Lauren Child, at a ceremony at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, London.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Waterstones Children’s Laureate, awarded once every two years to an eminent 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.

Managed by BookTrust, the UK’s largest children’s reading charity, and sponsored by Waterstones, each Laureate brings their own passion to the prestigious role to create a unique legacy. Today, the new Laureate unveiled the Cressida Cowell Waterstones Children’s Laureate Charter, a ‘giant to-do list’ to help ensure that books and reading are available to absolutely everyone. The charter asserts that every child has the right to:

  1. Read for the joy of it
  2. Access NEW books in schools, libraries and bookshops
  3. Have advice from a trained librarian or bookseller
  4. Own their OWN book
  5. See themselves reflected in a book
  6. Be read aloud to
  7. Have some choice in what they read
  8. Be creative for at least 15 minutes a week
  9. See an author event at least ONCE
  10. Have a planet to read on

At the ceremony, Cowell spoke about the importance of school libraries and her plans to campaign for these to be made statutory, and, along with public libraries and librarians, funded properly. Cowell also spoke about helping to develop children’s creative intelligence in the context of the cultural industries and the value they add to the UK economy and beyond, arguing for creative space on the curriculum.

Cressida Cowell, Waterstones Children’s Laureate 2019–2021, 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. The Steering Group is looking forward to working with Cressida over the next two years to reach even more children and communities, following on from the wonderful work of the outgoing Laureate, Lauren Child, and the impressive twenty-year legacy of the Laureateship. On behalf of the judges, I extend Cressida our warmest congratulations.”   Diana Gerald, CEO at BookTrust, said:

“BookTrust is honoured to manage the Waterstones Children’s Laureate. Cressida Cowell is a superb successor to Lauren Child as she becomes the eleventh Laureate. 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.”

Florentyna Martin, Children’s Category Manager at Waterstones, said:

“Cressida Cowell is a sparkling ambassador for children’s literature. Her combination of creativity, enthusiasm and determination are solid grounding to launch her new role, which we are delighted to sponsor. Children’s books are at the heart of our bookshops and we’ve thoroughly enjoyed championing Cressida’s stories from the outset, which have become a cornerstone in children’s storytelling. We simply can’t wait to work on Cressida’s Laureateship and help to build the legacy she will undoubtedly create.”

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