Cressida Cowell, the international bestselling author and illustrator of the How to Train Your Dragon series and World Book Day Trustee, has today been crowned the Waterstones Children’s Laureate 2019–2021.
Cowell was presented with the iconic silver Laureate medal by the outgoing Waterstones Children’s Laureate, Lauren Child, at a ceremony at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, London.
This year marks the 20thanniversary of the Waterstones Children’s Laureate, awarded once every two years to an eminent children’s author or illustrator to honour outstanding achievement in their field. The ‘League of Laureates’ – including Quentin Blake, Malorie Blackman and Jacqueline Wilson – are the foremost representatives of children’s literature, showcasing the extraordinary and dynamic art form and its rich contribution to UK culture.
Managed by BookTrust, the UK’s largest children’s reading charity, and sponsored by Waterstones, each Laureate brings their own passion to the prestigious role to create a unique legacy. Today, the new Laureate unveiled the Cressida Cowell Waterstones Children’s Laureate Charter, a ‘giant to-do list’ to help ensure that books and reading are available to absolutely everyone.
At the ceremony, Cowell spoke about the importance of school libraries and her plans to campaign for these to be made statutory, and, along with public libraries and librarians, funded properly. Cowell also spoke about helping to develop children’s creative intelligence in the context of the cultural industries and the value they add to the UK economy and beyond, arguing for creative space on the curriculum.
“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. Practical magic, empathy and creative intelligence, is the plan.”
Cressida Cowell is the international bestselling author and illustrator of the How to Train Your Dragon and The Wizards of Once series and the author of the Emily Brown picture books, all published by Hachette Children’s Group.