BookTrust celebrates 20 years of the Waterstones Children’s Laureate

Published on: 02 November 2018

Today, we unveil the first plans for our celebration of 20 years of the Waterstones Children's Laureate in 2019. Here's what you can look forward to...

In 2019, we will be marking 20 years of a Children's Laureate in the UK.

Launching in February 2019, our celebrations will harness the power of the ten Waterstones Children’s Laureates: Quentin Blake, Anne Fine, Michael Morpurgo, Jacqueline Wilson, Michael Rosen, Anthony Browne, Julia Donaldson, Malorie Blackman, Chris Riddell and Lauren Child.

Find out more about the current Children's Laureate

Highlights of the campaign will include a specially commissioned anthology of stories, poems and pictures from the ten Children’s Laureates to date; a nationwide League of Laureates tour; and a partnership with Puffin Virtually Live – with more details to be announced in the New Year.

Jill Coleman, Director of Children’s Books, said:

'We are immensely proud of the many ways in which this unique and vital Laureateship has showcased the exceptional quality of children’s literature in the UK over the past 20 years, and are so very grateful to the extraordinary authors and illustrators that have worn the Children’s Laureate silver medal.
'We look forward to celebrating the legacy of our ten Laureates and the many ways in which they have inspired young readers, as well as looking forward to the next 20 years and beyond of celebrating the wonderful world of children’s books.'

Get imaginations soaring

Walker Books will publish a beautiful gift anthology, Flights of Fancy: Stories, Pictures and Inspiration From Ten Children's Laureates (7 February 2019, Hardback), with original contributions from all ten of the former honourees.

Flights of Fancy will inspire children to let their imaginations soar, with rare insights such as Quentin Blake on the stories behind his pictures of weird and wonderful beasts, an original short story from Jacqueline Wilson, and witty, read-aloud poems by Michael Rosen that play with language and shape. Part of the proceeds from sales of the book will go to BookTrust.

Jane Winterbotham, Publishing Director at Walker Books, said:

'We are thrilled to be publishing this one-of-a-kind anthology to celebrate these ten exceptional talents and the mark they have made on the world of Children’s Literature. In this original and entertaining anthology, the Laureates have shared their own techniques and inspiration, to help children unlock their imaginations and produce their own work.
'This book will be treasured by anyone with a passion for children’s books, and will help to inspire the next generation of authors, illustrators, poets and possibly even a future Laureate.'

See the 'League of Laureates'

The "League of Laureates" nationwide tour will see Laureates appearing at a series of events across the country with the final celebration taking place at Hay Festival. Hay Festival 2019 takes place 23 May to 2 June.

Puffin’s hugely successful webcast for schools – Puffin Virtually Live – will celebrate the anniversary with two special webcasts in the spring and summer term, each one starring Children’s Laureates. Streamed free online, on average around 75,000 children watch Puffin Virtually Live shows simultaneously in classrooms around the world.

Waterstones, who sponsor the Children’s Laureate, will join in the celebrations by working with BookTrust to put on a special event for school children with some of the past Children’s Laureates, and the trade launch party will be hosted by Waterstones Piccadilly.

Florentyna Martin, Children’s Book Buyer at Waterstones, said:

'It’s a privilege to sponsor the Children’s Laureate and we have thoroughly enjoyed working with each of the Laureates over the last 20 years, who have each used the position to champion children’s books and to encourage reading and creativity using their own individual passion, energy and style.
'We are looking forward to celebrating the 20th anniversary and to continuing our work with BookTrust to further engage and excite young readers about books.'

Showcase children's literature

The Children’s Laureate was created in 1999 by Poet Laureate Ted Hughes and children’s author Michael Morpurgo and is awarded once every two years to an eminent children's book writer or illustrator to honour outstanding achievement in their field. The Laureates are the foremost representative of children’s literature in the UK, showcasing the extraordinary and dynamic artform and its rich contribution to culture.

The twentieth anniversary campaign will celebrate all that has been achieved over the past 20 years of the Waterstones Children’s Laureate and look forward to the future of the Laureateship.

Find out more about the current Children's Laureate

Download the press release (.docx)

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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. Find out what Joseph's been up to.

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