UK author Gleitzman unveiled as Australian children’s laureate

UK author Gleitzman unveiled as Australian children’s laureate

Children’s author Morris Gleitzman has said “young people need stories more than ever” following his appointment as Australian children’s laureate.

The Lincolnshire-born writer who has published books for 30 years, said he hopes to “equip young readers to embrace an often dark and uncertain world” during his tenure as the children's laureate.

Gleitzman, who is published by Penguin Random House in the UK and Australia, will succeed Leigh Hobbs in a ceremony on Thursday (15th February) at the State Library of New South Wales. 

The theme for Gleitzman’s two-year term as will be ‘Stories Make Us - Stories Create Our Future’. The author, who moved to Australia as a teenager, said that currently “young people need stories more than ever”.

Gleitzman described a need for “stories to delight, stories to beguile, stories to inspire, stories to move deeply” and that “through these experiences, stories that equip young readers to embrace an often dark and uncertain world with optimism, resolve and creativity”.

He said: “As laureate, I’ll champion stories and everything stories can offer. I aim to be a kind of ambassador for young readers, and for the community of people who write for them. An emissary from the place where young imaginations draw strength from stories and grow and engage and become our best hope for the future."

Gleitzman’s debut, The Other Facts of Life, was published by Penguin Random House Australia in 1985. He has sold 237,906 books according to Nielsen BookScan, amounting to £1.27m, with his biggest seller Once shifting 60,896 copies.

Ron Gorman, chair ACLA, said the writer would offer a “persuasive voice” to children’s literature. She said: “His impressive body of work is well known by Australians, young and old, who will no doubt celebrate his laureateship. Increasingly, the research is showing us that reading changes lives – Morris will be a persuasive voice in bringing Australians to value reading and children's literature."

Founded in 2008, the laureateship is bestowed every two years on an outstanding writer or illustrator of children's books and facilitated by the Australian Children s Literature Alliance (ACLA). Its role is to “promote the importance and transformational power of reading, creativity and story in the lives of young Australians”. Previous laureates have included Alison Lester, Boori Monty Pryor and Jackie French.