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The Children’s Laureate

Did you know there was a Children’s Laureate? Nor me but I do now.

The idea was born from a conversation between (the then) Poet Laureate Ted Hughes and children’s writer Michael Morpurgo. It’s awarded once every two years to an eminent writer or illustrator of children’s books to celebrate outstanding achievement in their field. and the winner is awarded a £15,000 Bursary and a rather fetching Silver Medal.
There has been a Children’s Laureate since 1999 (Quentin Blake) and a new one is chosen every two years. The title is sponsored predominantly by Waterstones (hence the full and proper title being The Waterstones Children’s Laureate) and the role covers the UK (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) although Wales also has its own Young Person’s Laureate and  Bardd Plant Cymru (Welsh Children’s Poet Laureate), the republic of Ireland also has its own Children’s Laureate, Laureate na nÓg.

Each Children’s Laureate has taken the opportunity to promote particular aspects of children’s books. These have included visual literacy, readers with disabilities, poetry, storytelling, illustration, drama, writing for young adults and more.

The current Children’s Laureate is Chris Riddell, a British illustrator and occasional writer of children’s books. He became Laureate on the 9th June 2015.

Children’s Laureate between 2013 and 2015 was Malorie Blackman  who primarily writes literature and television drama for children and young adults. She has used science fiction to explore social and ethical issues. Her critically and popularly acclaimed Noughts and Crosses series uses the setting of a fictional dystopia to explore racism.

The 2011-2013 Laureate Julia Donaldson is best known for her popular rhyming stories for children, especially those illustrated by Axel Scheffler, which include The Gruffalo, Room on the Broom and Stick Man.

The previous laureates going right back to its inception are:

Anthony Browne 2009-2011
Michael Rosen 2007-2009
Jacqueline Wilson 2005-2007
Michael Morpurgo 2003-2005
Anne Fine 2001-2003
Quentin Blake 1999-2001

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