Malorie Blackman has been appointed the Waterstones Children's Laureate for 2013-2015, and has vowed to get children reading more as well as to continue the support for libraries shown by her predecessor Julia Donaldson.
Blackman said: “I am honoured to have been chosen as the eighth Children’s Laureate. A love of books has opened so many doors for me. Stories have inspired me and taught me to aspire. I’ve been a professional author for over 20 years, so I feel now is the time to give something back. I hope to instil in every child I meet my love and enthusiasm for reading and stories.”
She added: “And as I would never have become an author if it hadn’t been for my local library as a child, I intend to continue Julia Donaldson’s amazing, indefatigable work advocating for our nation’s public library service.”
Blackman plans to use her position to call on teachers and parents to spend at least 10 minutes per day sharing a book with their pupils and children, as well as to encourage teenagers to explore a wide range of literature, from short stories to graphic novels. The author, who started her career as a computer programmer, is also keen to focus on the role that technology plays in making literature come alive for a generation of young people who have grown up with digital.
Blackman was presented with the Children's Laureate medal and a cheque for £15,000 by Channel 4 News anchor Krishnan Guru-Murphy, a member of the Children's Laureate 2013-15 selection committee, at a ceremony at King's Place in central London earlier this morning (4th June).
This year’s Laureate selection committee included Guru-Murthy, Adam Lancaster, associate head teacher at Monk's Walk School and School Librarian of the Year 2012, and Melissa Cox, children's new titles buyer for Waterstones, together with some of the members of the Children's Laureate steering group.
Guru-Murphy said: "Malorie Blackman's stories are gripping, daring and reach out to young people who might otherwise spend all their time on video games and the internet. The panel are unanimous in believing she will be a brilliant and passionate Children's Laureate."
Waterstones m.d. James Daunt said: "This is a wonderful appointment. Malorie will bring her trademark energy to the role and be a great Children's Laureate. We at Waterstones will be proud to support her over the next two years."
Blackman is a former scriptwriter for TV school drama “Byker Grove” and the author of over 60 books for children and teenagers, including Pig-Heart Boy, shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie and adapted into a BAFTA-winning TV series, and Boys Don’t Cry, a novel about teenage fathers. Her multi-award-winning Noughts and Crosses put issues of race and ethnic identity to the foreground for a teenage readership. Blackman is published by Random House Children’s Books.
The post of Children's Laureate was created in 1999, and previous Laureates include Quentin Blake, Anne Fine, Michael Morpurgo, Jacqueline Wilson and Anthony Browne. Waterstones became the title sponsor for the post in 2011. The Authors Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS) join as new sponsors of the Children's Laureate for 2013-15. Other sponsorship and funding comes from children's publishers, and Arts Council England.