"You are building a new world and that is truly magic": Joseph Coelho's letter to children this Christmas
Published on: 28 November 2023
Support our Magic of Books appeal this Christmas and you could send a festive book pack to a child in care or visiting a food bank.
This year's festive book packs don't just contain one (or two!) books. Children also receive a poster, postcard and bookmark beautifully illustrated by Fiona Lumbers, as well as a letter from Waterstones Children's Laureate Joseph Coelho.
Here, we're sharing the gorgeous, inspiring message Joseph wants to share with children who need a little extra magic this Christmas.
I'm Joseph Coelho, a writer and the current Waterstones Children's Laureate - a special job where I get to celebrate books. I am so excited to hear that you are getting a special book pack from BookTrust this Christmas. I hope you find it exciting and perhaps you'll be inspired to create your own stories.
I grew up in a big block of flats with my mum and little sister in London. I never imagined I could be a writer but even back then I was coming up with ideas that would later become stories, poems and books.
I would look at the world around me and as I played and explored, I made up stories. As I listened to the wind in the trees and watched my friends in the playground, characters and settings would pop into my head. The top of a tree I could see from my bedroom window looked like an old man's face - I imagined that tree was magic. That tree became a character in my picture book Our Tower where three kids from a tower block discover a magical world underneath their estate. I didn't know it then, but I was coming up with ideas that would later become stories, poems and books.
Illustration: Fiona Lumbers
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I moved a couple of times when I was young. I was sorry to leave behind the places and people I knew but I always discovered something exciting in my new homes and always made new friends. I found new stories in these new places. At one place I discovered a love for drawing and would rush home every day after school just so I could trace some of the pictures from my favourite comics. When I moved again I discovered a library. I would go there every day discovering books and new worlds. That library became the setting for mine and Fiona Lumbers' Luna Loves Library Day where books reveal their magic.
I bet that you imagine stories too. Writers and illustrators write and draw but more importantly they use their imagination to tell stories. When you use your imagination you become a story maker and story makers can become whatever they want - a writer or an illustrator, a comic book maker or a game designer, a singer or a vet, a scientist or a builder. By telling ourselves wonderful stories we can shape our futures. You might tell yourself a story about becoming a brilliant footballer or an amazing doctor or even an astronaut!
However you decide to tell your stories know that as you tell them you are doing what all your favourite story makers do. You are building a new world and that is truly magic.
I wish you all the best of luck reading and creating your own fizzingly brilliant stories whatever shape they may take.