Cressida Cowell has been appointed as the first Foyles Literacy Ambassador.
The How to Train Your Dragon author has been appointed in association with books charity the National Literacy Trust (NLT) to promote reading, writing and “encourage a passion for literature in all its forms”.
During her two-year role, Cowell will take part in a series of children’s events at Foyles branches in London, Birmingham, Bristol and Chelmsford. She will also deliver the inaugural Foyles and National Literacy Trust lecture in spring 2018.
Every shop will feature a branded “Cressida shelf” containing her book recommendations as well her own titles and there will be regular, themed window displays, merchandise and giveaways. The retailer will also sell signed edition of her new book, The Wizards of Once (Hachette) following its publication on 19 September.
Cowell will also run a regular series of online videos for parents which will be hosted on Foyles’ YouTube channel while a dedicated page on the Foyles website will feature her book recommendations and other content. She will judge a new creative writing competition with further details to be announced shortly.
Cowell said she was “delighted” with the new role, explaining: “I’ve been lucky enough to celebrate the opening of several Foyles shops, and what they do brilliantly is make children’s books spaces look and feel exciting – they’re inviting places for kids to find their next adventure. I want to inspire kids today to read with the same excitement and wonder that I did when I was a child."
She added: "I’ve been an Ambassador for the National Literacy Trust for over a decade, and I’m especially thrilled to be collaborating with them so closely as well, and emphasising how valuable their work is.”
Paul Currie, c.e.o of Foyles, said the company's "first choice" was Cowell. He said: "We believe that the development of younger readers and their access to literature is essential to both the future of reading and writing. It also benefits the communities that we live and work in."
He added: "When we thought of who might best help us launch the project, our first choice had to be Cressida Cowell—one of the nation's most beloved children's authors, a long-time friend of Foyles, and already a champion for literacy. We're beyond delighted that she said yes.”
Jonathan Douglas, director of NLT, said: “Cressida is a fantastically talented author and illustrator who has enticed millions of children and young people, not to mention adults, in to the world of reading. Her talks and events are legendary for leaving children brimming with excitement and enthusiasm, not just for reading but also for picking up a pen and unleashing their own imaginations on to the page.”
He added: “Cressida is already a wonderful ambassador for children and literacy and will undoubtedly reach new heights in her role as Foyles Literacy Ambassador.”
The author has been a "champion" of the NLT since 2005 and designed book benches for the charity's public art project in 2014.
Cowell recently completed a six-month role as writer-in-residence at children’s reading charity BookTrust. This scheme has run since March 2009 and other writers who have held the position include Patrick Ness, Sita Brahmachari, Polly Dunbar and Matt Haig.