Cressida Cowell, author and illustrator of the How to Train Your Dragon series and the Emily Brown picture books, was today (9th July) crowned the Waterstones Children’s Laureate 2019-2021.
Cowell, who said she was “honoured” to accept the laureateship, announced a “giant”, 10-point charter, which said all children should have the right to read for the joy of it, see themselves reflected in a book and be creative for at least 15 minutes every week.
She described books and reading as “magic”, saying: “One of the great things about being a children’s book writer is that you get to visit more schools than the average OFSTED inspector and that tells you that the magic isn’t getting to everyone, and is very unevenly distributed across the country.
“This is a huge interconnected problem and everyone in this room knows just exactly how impossible it is. Bookshops are closing, libraries are closing, librarians are disappearing, review space is shrinking, parents are knackered, the kids are on the Nintendo switch… Everywhere you look, it’s impossible and getting more impossible by the minute.”
The author described her charter as a “to-do list” and promised to campaign for the right for books to be for everyone, starting with campaigning funding and improvements to public and school library services, and encouraging schools to allow children to be creative.
She succeeds Lauren Child, who has held the post for the past two years.
The Waterstones Children’s Laureate is managed by BookTrust and its c.e.o. Diana Gerard said: “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 children’s reading across the country and help to unlock their creativity.”
Cressida Cowell Waterstones Children’s Laureate Charter:
The charter asserts that every child has the right 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