About the Children's Laureate
Frequently asked questions
Who is the current Waterstones Children's Laureate?
Chris Riddell is the current Children's Laureate.
What is the Waterstones Children's Laureate?
The role of Children's Laureate is awarded once every two years to an eminent writer or illustrator of children's books to celebrate outstanding achievement in their field.
The Children's Laureate receives a bursary of £15,000 and a specially designed and inscribed silver medal.
Where did the idea come from?
The idea for the Children's Laureate originated from a conversation between (the then) Poet Laureate Ted Hughes and children's writer Michael Morpurgo. They considered it an appropriate and timely way to combine the celebration of excellence in writing and illustration for children with honouring individuals who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the world of children’s books.
Quentin Blake was the first Children's Laureate (1999-2001), followed by Anne Fine (2001-2003), Michael Morpurgo (2003-2005), Jacqueline Wilson (2005-2007), Michael Rosen (2007-2009), Anthony Browne (2009-2011), Julia Donaldson (2011-2013), Malorie Blackman (2013-2015) and Chris Riddell (2015-2017).
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.
What area does the Laureate cover?
The role of Children's Laureate covers the UK: England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Wales also has its own Young People’s Laureate and Bardd Plant Cymru (Welsh Children’s Poet Laureate)
For information about the Irish Children's Laureate, visit the Laureate na nÓg website.
Who selects the Waterstones Children's Laureate?
The selection panel consider nominations from a range of organisations representing librarians, critics, writers, literature development workers and booksellers, including the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY). They also look at suggestions from children, who are able to put forward their ideas for who should be the next Children's Laureate through this website.
The selection panel for 2015-2017 were the Children’s Laureate Steering Group, joined by
- Natasha Kaplinsky - broadcaster
- Melissa Cox – head of books, Waterstones
- Matthew Burton – assistant head, Thornhill Community Academy
What are the criteria for selecting the Children's Laureate?
The selection process takes into account the following criteria:
- exceptional talent in writing or illustration
- contribution to creating the next generation of readers, writers and illustrators
- excellence developed through an eagerness to explore and experiment with ideas, genres and the possibilities of their craft
- substantial publishing record
- significant profile in the industry and amongst their peers
- interest in raising the profile of books for children, and for their writers and illustrators
Who runs the Waterstones Children's Laureate?
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. BookTrust work with Riot Communications on the Children's Laureate's press and PR.
Book Trust work closely with the Children's Laureate steering committee, made up of representatives of the children's book world, who provide a range of expertise and guidance with which to support the Children's Laureate's work.
The current steering committee comprises:
- Kate Agnew - children's bookseller, Muswell Hill Children's Bookshop, representing the Booksellers' Association
- Sue Ball - Libraries Service Development Manager, Staffordshire County Council
- Abigail Campbell (chair) - freelance children's literature consultant
- Emily Drabble - Head of Children’s Book Promotion and Prizes at BookTrust
- Julia Eccleshare - Children's Books Editor for the Guardian
- Lindsey Fraser - literary agent
- Ian Lamb - Head of Children's Marketing and Publicity at Bloomsbury, representing the Publishers Association Children's Group
- Vanessa Lewis - owner of The Book Nook
- Professor Kim Reynolds - University of Newcastle
- Deborah Texeira - primary school teacher in Warwickshire
Who funds/supports the Waterstones Children's Laureate?
Waterstones is the lead sponsor of the 2015-2017 award, with additional funding coming from Arts Council England.
Children's publishers also provide support for the Children's Laureate, including lead publisher supporter for 2015-2017 Macmillan Children’s Books and secondary publisher supporter Bloomsbury Publishing, Penguin Random House and Walker Books.
How can I send letters to the Children's Laureate?
If you would like to write to the Children's Laureate, you can send correspondence to:
Chris Riddell – Children’s Laureate
20 New Wharf Road
London N1 9RR
How can I invite the Children's Laureate to visit my school, library or festival?
If you would like to invite Chris Riddell to visit you for an event at a school, library or other venue during his time as Laureate, please contact Catherine Alport at Catherine.Alport@Macmillan.com
Please note that the Children's Laureate receives a huge volume of invitations, and only a limited number of events will be available.
How can I get in touch with the Children's Laureate office?
For any general Children's Laureate enquiries, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
For press enquiries, contact email@example.com.