Cressida Cowell MBE announces end of tenure as Waterstones Children's Laureate
Published on: 07 June 2022
Waterstones Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell MBE has revealed the transformative impact on the pilot primary schools taking part in her ‘Life-changing Libraries’ initiative, which also marks the end of her tenure in the role.
Cressida Cowell MBE. Photograph by David Bebber
The key findings in the ‘Life-changing Libraries’ report, published today, describe a transformation in attitudes towards reading, with an enthusiasm and passion for books ignited amongst the students of the six pilot schools and a considerable uptake in the time spent engaged in reading for pleasure both at school and at home. Teachers have reported increased attention, engagement and motivation to within in the classroom, alongside a significant improvement in both children and staff wellbeing, as well as a boosted sense of pride, confidence and self-worth.
“It’s changed the feeling of the school, the attitudes of children and staff, it has changed everything.”
English Lead at Benwick Primary School (Benwick, Cambridgeshire)
“For years we have been looking for interventions to boost attainment to help close the gap between disadvantaged and SEN children and their peers. The library was the only intervention they needed.”
Headteacher at Woodchurch of England Primary School (Woodchurch Estate, The Wirral)
The ‘Life-changing Libraries’ initiative, delivered in partnership with BookTrust, showcased the transformative impact a well-resourced primary school library has on a child’s opportunities in life, as well as the shocking inequality currently facing children across England. Over the course of a year, six different primary schools across England were helped to develop a reading for pleasure culture, focused on the four pillars of a successful ‘gold standard’ school library: space, book provision, expertise, and whole-school and parent involvement. The activity forms part of a campaign by the internationally bestselling author-illustrator calling for the Prime Minister to put primary school libraries at the heart of our long-term response to the pandemic with a ring fenced, yearly investment of £100m.
Further information about the ‘Life-changing Libraries’ campaign and report can be found here.
Cressida Cowell’s Laureate Legacy
Alongside the 'Life-changing Libraries report’, Cowell has reflected on her time as Children’s Laureate during the pandemic, and bringing to life her magical to-do list – the Laureate Reading Charter – to ensure all children have access to books.
During the pandemic, Cressida helped launch the digital hub BookTrust HomeTime to entertain children and families at home, packed with free online books, videos, activities, competitions, quizzes and much more. She also curated a week of ‘Summer Camp’ activity featuring leading authors and illustrators to inspire families to embrace books, reading and creativity at home over the summer holidays for entertainment, learning, as well as to support mental well-being. Since the pandemic began, Cressida has read a weekly chapter from her best-selling How to Train Your Dragon and The Wizards of Once books from her garden shed, streaming the videos on her YouTube channel.
Cowell also worked with BookTrust Represents to create #PassThePen, a social media campaign designed to help create visibility and generate book sales for emerging authors and illustrators of colour in the children’s books world by pairing fresh talent with established, high-profile authors and illustrators, for a takeover of their partners’ Instagram platform for a day to share information about themselves and their work. The second edition of #PassThePen formed part of the World Book Day 2022 celebrations.
‘Life-changing Libraries’ has been Cressida Cowell’s flagship campaign as Waterstones Children’s Laureate, and the culmination of this project marks the end of her tenure in this prestigious role. Whilst Cressida’s time as Laureate now comes to a close, she will continue to fight until every child has access to a great library. She will be working with The Primary School Library Alliance, as well as supporting the Great School Libraries Campaign.
What's next for Cressida
Cressida’s new series Which Way to Anywhere has just been announced, and the first instalment will be published by Hachette Children’s Group on 15 September 2022. Which Way to Anywhere is an out-of-this-world new adventure series about a thoroughly modern magic, unlikely heroes, the meaning of family and how those who seem like they’re worlds apart might just be more similar than they think…
Cressida began writing Which Way to Anywhere twenty-five years ago, but took it out of drawer during the pandemic, partly inspired by reading giving children other worlds to visit during lockdown.
Stay up to date with Cressida on Twitter to follow her adventures.