Cressida Cowell Becomes New Children’s Laureate | Arts
Cressida Cowell has been named the new Children’s Laureate and plans to get children reading “for the joy of it”.
The How To Train Your Dragon author was presented with the silver laureate medal by the previous laureate, Charlie And Lola author Lauren Child, at a ceremony at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London.
The honour is awarded every two years to a children’s author or illustrator who has shown outstanding achievement in their field and is intended to “promote and encourage children’s interest in books, reading and writing“. The laureate is chosen by a panel of judges from the book world, who also consider names put forward by children who have voted online.
Previous title holders include Jacqueline Wilson, Quentin Blake and Malorie Blackman.
Speaking at the ceremony, she told the audience of her “giant to do list” which will ensure that books are available for all children. “Books and reading are magic and this magic must be available to absolutely everyone“, she said. “I’m honoured to be chosen to be the eleventh Waterstones children’s laureate. I will be a laureate who fights for books and children’s interests with passion, conviction and action”.
She has created a 10-point plan to help encourage children to read and write, but she says the two most important things are boosting creative writing in schools and preventing the decline of primary school libraries.
Last year she experimented with ‘free-writing Fridays’ which allowed children to write whatever they wanted without the teacher marking it, away from the pressure of SATS tests. She hoped it would encourage children to join the creative industries and saw a positive impact on their mental health as a result.
Cowell is a bestselling author in 38 languages with her How To Train Your Dragon and The Wizards Of Once book series and illustrates most of her work. How to Train Your Dragon was made into an award-winning film trilogy and TV series.
She is also an ambassador for the National Literacy Trust, a trustee for World Book Day and a founding patron of the Children’s Media Foundation.