About the Waterstones Children's Laureate

Everything you need to know about the Laureate.

Did you know there's been a Children's Laureate since 1999?

Ever since Ted Hughes and Michael Morpurgo came up with the idea, and made it happen, our list of Laureates have inspired and entertained children all over the UK.

Below you can find everything else you need to know about the Waterstones Children's Laureate.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

  • Who is the current Waterstones Children's Laureate?

    Joseph Coelho is the current Waterstones Children's Laureate.

  • What are the aims of the Waterstones Children's Laureateship?

    The Children’s Laureateship exists to:

    1. Celebrate and promote creativity and storytelling
    2. Inspire all children to read a rich and diverse range of stories
    3. Promote the importance of children’s books and reading
    4. Champion the right of every child to enjoy a lifetime rich in books and stories and the proven benefits this brings.
  • What is the Waterstones Children's Laureate?

    The role of the Waterstones Children’s Laureate is an influential appointment awarded biennially to a renowned UK writer or illustrator of books for children, to celebrate their exceptional talent and to further the goals of the Laureateship through their own unique talents and approach.

    The Waterstones Children's Laureate receives a bursary of £30,000 and a specially designed and inscribed silver medal.

  • Where did the idea come from?

    The idea for the Waterstones Children's Laureate originated from a conversation between (the then) Poet Laureate Ted Hughes and children's writer Michael Morpurgo. They considered it an appropriate and timely way to combine the celebration of excellence in writing and illustration for children with honouring individuals who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the world of children’s books.

    Quentin Blake was the first Children's Laureate (1999-2001), followed by Anne Fine (2001-2003), Michael Morpurgo (2003-2005), Jacqueline Wilson (2005-2007), Michael Rosen (2007-2009), Anthony Browne (2009-2011), Julia Donaldson (2011-2013), Malorie Blackman (2013-2015), Chris Riddell (2015-2017), Lauren Child (2017-19), Cressida Cowell (2019-22), and now Joseph Coelho (2022-24)

    Each Waterstones Children’s Laureate has taken the opportunity to promote particular aspects of children’s books. These have included visual literacy, readers with disabilities, poetry, storytelling, illustration, drama, writing for young adults and more.

  • What area of the UK does the Laureate cover?

    The role of Waterstones Children's Laureate covers the UK: England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

  • Are there other Children's Laureate programmes running elsewhere in the UK and around the world?

    Yes, since the UK Children’s Laureate was set up in 1999, other countries have been inspired to create their own Laureate programs for their literacy needs.

    Ireland: The Laureate na nÓg was founded in 2010 and is a two-year term. Writer Áine Ní Ghlinn is holding the title for 2020 – 2023.

    Wales: The Bardd Plant Cymru is their own Welsh language Children’s Poet Laureate, which began in 2000. The current Bardd Plant Cymru is singer-songwriter Casi Wyn until August 2023. Alongside the Bardd Plant Cymru, there is a dedicated Children’s Laureate Wales role, which is currently held by poet and performer Connor Allen until August 2023. 

    UK: The Young People’s Laureate for London was launched in 2016 and aims to work with young people across London promoting poetry. Cecilia Knapp was the Laureate for 2020 -2021 and the project is under review for 2022.

    Australia: The Australian Children’s Laureate began in 2012 and is awarded annually. Its current Laureate is Gabrielle Wang.

    The Netherlands: The Children’s Books Ambassador, called "Kinderboekenambassadeur", is awarded every two years and first started in 2013. The current role is held by Manon Sikkel for 2019-2022.

    Mexico: The current Mexican Laureate is Antonio Malpica and was awarded the role in 2015.

    Sweden: The Reading Ambassador, or "Läsamabassadör", began in 2011 and is awarded every two years. The new ambassador will be announced in 2022.

    USA: The National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature was established in 2008 and is awarded every two years. The 2020-2022 ambassador is Jason Reynolds.

  • Who selects the Waterstones Children's Laureate?

    The selection panel invites nominations from a range of organisations across the UK representing librarians, critics, writers, literature development workers and booksellers.

    Find out more about the 2022 – 2024 nominating bodies.

    The selection panel for 2022 - 2024 were the Children’s Laureate Steering Group (see below), joined by guest judges’ author, youth engagement specialist and public speaker The Right Honourable Stuart Lawrence and secondary school librarian, winner of the School Librarian of the Year 2021, Kristabelle Williams.  

    Kate Edwards (chair) - Expert in children's museums and literary arts (current member of the Waterstones Children’s Laureate Steering Group)

    Sue Ball - Libraries Service Development Manager, Staffordshire County Council (current member of the Waterstones Children’s Laureate Steering Group)

    Emily Drabble - Head of Children's Books Promotion and Prizes at BookTrust (current member of the Waterstones Children’s Laureate Steering Group)

    Julia Eccleshare - Director of Hay Festival children's programme and children's literature specialist (current member of the Waterstones Children’s Laureate Steering Group)

    Florentyna Martin - Head of Children’s at Waterstones (sponsor representative and current member of the Waterstones Children’s Laureate Steering Group)

    Steven Pryse – co-founder of Pickled Pepper Books, representing the Booksellers Association Children’s Bookselling Group (current member of the Waterstones Children’s Laureate Steering Group)

    Amanda Punter – Publishing Director of Puffin at Penguin Random House, representing the Publishers Association Children's Group (current member of the Waterstones Children’s Laureate Steering Group)

    Deborah Texeira - primary school teacher in Warwickshire (current member of the Waterstones Children’s Laureate Steering Group)

  • Who runs the Waterstones Children's Laureate?

    The Waterstones Children's Laureate is managed by BookTrust, who support the Laureate, organise a minimum of four official Children's Laureate events per year, raise funds and run the official website. BookTrust work with Midas Communications on the Children's Laureate's press and PR.

    BookTrust work closely with the Waterstones Children's Laureate steering committee, made up of representatives of the children's book world, who provide a range of expertise and guidance with which to support the Children's Laureate's work.

    The current steering committee comprises:

    Kate Edwards (chair) - Expert in children's museums and literary arts

    Sue Ball - Libraries Service Development Manager, Staffordshire County Council

    Emily Drabble - Head of Children's Books Promotion and Prizes at BookTrust 

    Julia Eccleshare - Director of Hay Festival children's programme and children's literature specialist

    Florentyna Martin - Head of Children’s at Waterstones

    Steven Pryse – co-founder of Pickled Pepper Books, representing the Booksellers Association Children’s Bookselling Group

    Amanda Punter – Publishing Director of Puffin at Penguin Random House, representing the Publishers Association Children's Group

    Deborah Texeira - primary school teacher in Warwickshire

  • Who funds/supports the Waterstones Children's Laureate?

    The lead sponsor is Waterstones, and the Children’s Laureateship receives additional funding from the Arts Council England. Children's publishers also provide support for the Children's Laureate programme.  

    Find out more about the funders and sponsors

  • How can I send letters to the Waterstones Children's Laureate?

    If you would like to write to the Waterstones Children's Laureate, you can send correspondence to:

    Waterstones Children’s Laureate
    c/o The Prizes Team
    BookTrust, G8 Battersea Studios
    80 Silverthorne Road, London SW8 3HE

  • How can I invite the Waterstones Children's Laureate to visit my school, library or festival?

    Joseph Coelho’s official Children’s Laureate events will be organised with Waterstones. For festival programme queries please childrens.laureate@booktrust.org.uk.

    If you wish to invite Joseph Coelho to visit you for a school event, please contact Authors Aloud  info@authorsalouduk.co.uk

    Please note that the Waterstones Children's Laureate receives a huge volume of invitations, and only a limited number of events will be available throughout their term.

  • How can I get in touch with the Waterstones Children's Laureate office?

    For any general Waterstones Children's Laureate enquiries, please contact childrens.laureate@booktrust.org.uk. As we receive a high volume of emails it may take up to 10 working days to receive a response.

    For all Waterstones Children’s Laureate press enquiries, please contact Midas PR at hannah.mcmillan@midaspr.co.uk

    For book related press enquiries please contact the relevant publisher.

  • How can I get in touch with one of the previous Waterstones Children’s Laureates?

    If you wish to have one of the former Children’s Laureates appear at your school, library or festival please get in touch with their relevant publisher team as BookTrust are unable to coordinate these events.

  • How can I find out more about what the Waterstones Children’s Laureate is doing?

    Find out what the current and former Children's Laureates are up to Twitter on the official Laureate twitter feed @UKLaureate

    Follow Joseph Coelho’s own Twitter account @JosephACoelho

    Follow Joseph Coelho on Instagram @josephcoelhoauthor

    Check out the Laureate events page or upcoming events and festivals the Children’s Laureate will be appearing at

    Also see Joseph Coelho’s official website www.thepoetryofjosephcoelho.com

Get to know the Laureate

Follow the Children's Laureate on Twitter

Follow the Children's Laureate

Read Joseph's blog

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