Cressida Cowell announced as new Waterstones Children’s Laureate

Published on: 09 July 2019

Cressida Cowell, the international bestselling author and illustrator of the How to Train Your Dragon and The Wizards of Once series and the author of the Emily Brown picture books, all published by Hachette Children’s Group, has today been crowned the Waterstones Children’s Laureate 2019–2021.

‘Books are transformative because of their unique ability to develop three key magical powers: intelligence, creativity and, most important of all, empathy. Words are power; let’s take magic seriously.’ - Cressida Cowell

Today, author Cressida Cowell was presented with the iconic silver Laureate medal by the outgoing Waterstones Children’s Laureate, Lauren Child, at a ceremony at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, London.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Waterstones Children’s Laureate, awarded once every two years to an eminent children’s author or illustrator to honour outstanding achievement in their field.

The "League of Laureates" – including Quentin Blake, Malorie Blackman and Jacqueline Wilson – are the foremost representatives of children’s literature, showcasing the extraordinary and dynamic art form and its rich contribution to UK culture.

More about the Waterstones Children's Laureate

Fighting for books and children's interests

Managed by BookTrust, the UK’s largest children’s reading charity, and sponsored by Waterstones, each Laureate brings their own passion to the prestigious role to create a unique legacy.

Today, the new Laureate unveiled the Cressida Cowell Waterstones Children’s Laureate Charter, a ‘giant to-do list’ to help ensure that books and reading are available to absolutely everyone. 

Read the charter

At the ceremony, Cowell spoke about the importance of school libraries and her plans to campaign for these to be made statutory, and, along with public libraries and librarians, funded properly. Cowell also spoke about helping to develop children’s creative intelligence in the context of the cultural industries and the value they add to the UK economy and beyond, arguing for creative space on the curriculum.

Cressida Cowell, Waterstones Children’s Laureate 2019–2021, said:

'Books and reading are Magic and this magic must be available to absolutely everyone. I’m honoured to be chosen to be the eleventh Waterstones Children’s Laureate. I will be a Laureate who fights for books and children’s interests with passion, conviction and action. Practical magic, empathy and creative intelligence is the plan.'

Ambassador for children's literature

Kate Edwards, Chair of the Waterstones Children’s Laureate Steering Group and Chair of the Waterstones Children’s Laureate 2019–21 Judging Panel, said:

'Nominations for this prestigious role are invited from hundreds of literature, literacy and education organisations across the UK. Cressida Cowell’s impressive canon of work, with broad reach and appeal, coupled with her impassioned advocacy for the right of every child to enjoy a childhood rich in storytelling, cemented our choice for the next Waterstones Children’s Laureate.
'The Steering Group is looking forward to working with Cressida over the next two years to reach even more children and communities, following on from the wonderful work of the outgoing Laureate, Lauren Child, and the impressive 20-year legacy of the Laureateship. On behalf of the judges, I extend Cressida our warmest congratulations.'

Diana Gerald, CEO at BookTrust, said:

'BookTrust is honoured to manage the Waterstones Children’s Laureate. Cressida Cowell is a superb successor to Lauren Child as she becomes the 11th Laureate. Cowell is already an extraordinary advocate for children’s reading, and I have no doubt having the Laureate platform will only amplify her voice to help champion children’s reading across the country and help to unlock their creativity.'

Florentyna Martin, Children’s Category Manager at Waterstones, said:

'Cressida Cowell is a sparkling ambassador for children’s literature. Her combination of creativity, enthusiasm and determination are solid grounding to launch her new role, which we are delighted to sponsor. Children’s books are at the heart of our bookshops and we’ve thoroughly enjoyed championing Cressida’s stories from the outset, which have become a cornerstone in children’s storytelling. We simply can’t wait to work on Cressida’s Laureateship and help to build the legacy she will undoubtedly create.'

20 years of the Children’s Laureate

The Waterstones Children’s Laureate is managed by BookTrust, as the UK’s largest children’s reading charity, and sponsored by Waterstones. It is awarded once every two years to an eminent writer or illustrator of children’s books to celebrate outstanding achievement in their field, and celebrates children’s literature as an art form, recognising its contribution to culture and bringing it to the attention of a wider audience.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the prestigious role, originally created by Poet Laureate Ted Hughes and author Michael Morpurgo. The League of Laureates are the foremost representatives of children’s literature, showcasing the extraordinary and dynamic art form and its rich contribution to culture in the UK. Each Laureate brings their own passion to the prestigious role and focuses on their own particular themes to create a unique legacy.

More about the Waterstones Children's Laureate

Read the full press release (.docx, 1.49MB)

Waterstones Children's Laureate

Bestselling author-illustrator Cressida Cowell is the Children's Laureate for 2019-21: a role given every two years to celebrate outstanding achievement in children's literature.

All about the Laureate