Malorie Blackman named eighth Children’s Laureate

Malorie Blackman has this week become the latest author to join the storied ranks of the UK’s Children’s Laureates, taking over the biennially awarded position from prior incumbent Julia Donaldson. The role is given to writers or illustrators of work for children as a means of recognising outstanding achievement in their field, with recipients also given a bursary of £15,000 and an inscribed silver medal. The Laureate is chosen by a selection panel who consider nominations from librarians, critics, writers, literature development workers, booksellers and children who vote through the Laureate website.

Blackman – the acclaimed author of novels such as Noughts and Crosses, Pig-Heart Boy and Boys Don’t Cry – said of her appointment: ‘I am honoured to have been chosen as the eighth Children’s Laureate. A love of books has opened so many doors for me. Stories have inspired me and taught me to aspire. I’ve been a professional author for over 20 years, so I feel now is the time to give something back. I hope to instil in every child I meet my love and enthusiasm for reading and stories. And as I would never have become an author if it hadn’t been for my local library as a child, I intend to continue Julia Donaldson’s amazing, indefatigable work advocating for our nation’s public library service.’ She also expressed a desire to further encourage children and teenagers to read a higher quantity of books more regularly, calling on teachers and parents to spend at least ten minutes a day engaging in some form of literary activity with their charges.

Blackman is the eighth author to hold the position since its inception in 1999 after its having been suggested jointly by Ted Hughes and Michael Morpurgo. Her and Donaldson’s predecessors are a litany of revered names: Quentin Blake, Anne Fine, Morpurgo himself, Jacqueline Wilson, Michael Rosen and Anthony Browne. This year’s selection panel included broadcaster and news anchor Krishnan Guru-Murthy, Waterstones’ Childrens’ New Titles Buyer Melissa Cox and, representing the Booksellers’ Association, children’s bookseller Kate Agnew.

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