Trade excitement at new children's laureate

Trade excitement at new children's laureate

Publishers and industry figures have welcomed news of Malorie Blackman’s appointment as Waterstones Children's Laureate, heralding her as "a great spokesperson" and "amazing ambassador".

Bloomsbury Children's managing director Emma Hopkin said: "She'll be terrific and she seems very clear on what she wants to achieve. She'll be a great spokesperson."

Clare Randle, Waterstones children's range manager, said: "We're absolutely thrilled that [Blackman] has accepted to be the new Children's Laureate. She's a really amazing ambassador. It'll be interesting to see what she feels are her priorities; with the range of her books, she'll appeal to younger readers as well as to YA."

Society of Authors chief executive Nicola Solomon added: "Malorie will appeal to different groups, and to older readers than Julia [Donaldson, the outgoing laureate]."

Meanwhile, the Telegraph's culture editor online Martin Chilton hailed Blackman as "a superb choice" for the position.

He said: "It's a bold and interesting appointment—one that clearly thrills her—and by the end of 2015, I'm certain there will be thousands and thousands more children reading because of Malorie Blackman. She's a laureate for the 21st century."

In her first speech in the post this morning (4th June), Blackman said she wanted to "champion works in diverse forms", and said: "I can't be doing with all this stiffiness about only reading the classics or books that adults that haven't read a children's book in years approve of".

She told the Times she would champion "more culturally diverse books and more culturally diverse writers and illustrators".

In an interview with the
Independent, she said: "When I read all those books [growing up] I never read one that featured a black child like me. It's about making sure no child gets left behind. I loved reading when I grew up but did feel totally invisible because I couldn't see myself and my life reflected in the books I was reading. So it's about making sure every child feels included and have the right to express themselves creatively."

In the Guardian, she criticised education secretary Michael Gove's proposed new history curriculum as "dangerous", and said: "It's a mistake to get very inward-looking . . . The curriculum needs to appeal to as many children as possible or a number of them could become disenchanted with education because they feel it's not relevant."

Speaking to the Telegraph, Blackman said she plans to set up a website to recommend books and promote a range of reading that includes graphic novels, verse books and books linked with music and apps.

Blackman also said today that she will be continuing Donaldon's vocal support of public libraries, as a "passionate supporter" for the beleaguered service. She described reading in libraries throughout her childhood, and said: "My local libraries were my home away from home."

Speaking to the Times, Blackman called the ongoing challenge to UK library services "incredibly sad and incredibly short-sighted, especially now that we're talking about children's reading levels".