The Australian Children’s Laureate: Enriching the Lives of Young Australians through the Power of Story
Since 2012, highly respected Australian children’s authors or illustrators have been awarded this prestigious honour for an outstanding contribution to children’s literature.
They act as national and international ambassadors for reading. The program is managed by The Australian Children’s Literature Alliance in collaboration with the Laureate and a Project Manager.
The Children’s Laureate for 2016 and 2017 is Leigh Hobbs. He is the best-selling author of more than 20 books, and creator of the iconic characters Old Tom, Mr Chicken and Horrible Harriet.Leigh’s subversive humour has delighted children for more than two decades.
The theme for Hobbs’s two-year term as Australian Children’s Laureate will be ‘to champion creative opportunities for children, and to highlight the essential role libraries play in nurturing our creative lives’.
‘Libraries have played an enormous role in my life’, Hobbs says. ‘Reading and exploring history and art is something I have been able to do because of libraries. I’m passionately interested in histories and cultures and I hope that through my work I can encourage children to explore and experience these things too.’
Since 2013, the Netherlands has had a Children’s Book Ambassador. His or her task is to promote reading entirely as he or she sees fit. Since 2015, Jan Paul Schutten, known for The Mystery of Life, has been the Dutch ambassador.
Jan Paul’s campaign includes two themes, namely ‘There is a book for everyone’ and ‘ Reading is nicer than you think.’ With the first theme, Jan Paul wishes to bring notorious non-readers into contact with books that they would not think of initially. Informative books, in particular, are often neglected, while they offer considerable advantages. You can read about your favourite topic, from football or horses to pirates or space travel. Secondly, you do not have to read an informative book from cover to cover. In the case of a novel, the climax comes at the end; in the case of non-fiction, you are rewarded with information on your topic in every paragraph. It is ideal for children with reading or concentration problems. The second theme relates to the image that books have in the Netherlands. Everyone likes stories. Everyone likes nice adventures. These can be found in books.
Jan Paul attempts to draw attention to these themes by means of campaigns, media attention, lectures and social media.
The Waterstones Children’s Laureate is a position awarded in the United Kingdom once every two years to a writer or illustrator of children’s books to celebrate outstanding achievement in their field. The post stemmed from a discussion between Poet Laureate Ted Hughes and children’s writer Michael Morpurgo and is chosen by a panel of judges considering nominations from a range of organisations representing librarians, critics, writers and booksellers. A silver medal ceremony and a bursary of £15,000 is offered for the two-year term and the Children’s Laureate undertakes a range of live and digital events across the two years reaching every corner of the UK. The Children’s Laureate is managed by BookTrust, who support the Laureate, organise the four official Children’s Laureate events per year, raise funds and run the official website: http://www.childrenslaureate.org.uk/
Photos: Chris Riddell, Quentin Blake and Malorie Blackman
1999–2001 Quentin Blake
2001–2003 Anne Fine
2003–2005 Michael Morpurgo
2005–2007 Jacqueline Wilson
2007–2009 Michael Rosen
2009–2011 Anthony Browne
2011–2013 Julia Donaldson
2013–2015 Malorie Blackman
2015 – Chris Riddell
National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature: The United States of America
Every two years, a beloved and respected children’s book creator is appointed the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature to raise national awareness of the importance of young people’s literature as it relates to lifelong literacy, education, and the development and betterment of the lives of young people. The National Ambassador travels nationwide over the course of their 2-year term, showing kids and teens that reading is a vital part of their lives, and speaking to parents, teachers, librarians — everyone invested in young people’s literacy — about how to better connect with kids and teens and help them love reading.
The National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Program was established in 2008 by the Children’s Book Council (CBC), Every Child a Reader (ECAR), and the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress (CFB). The program is administered by Every Child a Reader.
2016-2017: Gene Luen Yang
2014-2015: Kate DiCamillo
2012-2013: Walter Dean Myers
2010-2011: Katherine Paterson
2008-2009: Jon Scieszka