Championing children’s reading

THE new Children’s Laureate, Cressida Cowell, creator of the much-loved How To Train Your Dragon series, will be one of the highlights of this year’s Bath Children’s Literature Festival, from 27th September to 6th October. And she will be in good company.

She is the 11th writer to hold the title, in an illustrious line-up which started with illustrator Quentin Blake.

The festival is welcoming an impressive line-up of children’s writers this autumn, including the new and five previous Children’s Laureates – Michael Rosen, author of books including We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, A Dog’s Tale and Jelly Boots, Dame Jacqueline Wilson whose memorable characters include Tracy Beaker and Hetty Feather, Chris Riddell, writer and illustrator whose stories include the Goth Girl and Ottoline series, Julia Donaldson, playwright, songwriter and author, whose many books for children of all ages and young adults include several created with illustrator Axel Scheffler – of which the best known is The Gruffalo, and Malorie Blackman whose ground-breaking books for teens and young adults offer thought-provoking themes such as race, politics, ethics and class. Her Noughts and Crosses books are being screened as a new TV series.

As soon as Cressida Cowell was appointed Children’s Laureate she announced her to-do list for her two-year tenure. She began with two simple key messages: that books and reading are magic and that this magic must be made urgently available to everyone.

Cressida, who has spoken passionately in the past about the need to encourage children’s creativity and not to stifle it with micro-managing or over-correcting children’s writing, has set out her ten-point charter:
1 Read for the joy of it
2 Access new books in schools, libraries and bookshops
3 Have advice from a trained librarian or bookseller
4 Own their own book
5 See themselves reflected in a book
6 Be read aloud to
7 Have some choice in what they read
8 Be creative for at least 15 minutes a week
9 see an author event at least once
10 Have a planet to read on

As part of her goals as Children’s Laureate, Cressida wants to increase the time spent on creative writing in schools and to maintain school libraries as a valuable resource to feed children’s hungry imaginations.
Cressida will be making two appearances at our autumn festival.

She will be appearing at The Forum as part of the schools’ programme on Friday 27th September and at the Guildhall on Saturday 28th September for a public event. Cressida will be talking about her latest book Knock Three Times, which is part of the popular series The Wizards of Once. She will also be sharing her top tips for writers and inspiring people to go and create their own characters.

Waterstones, sponsors of the Children’s Laureate, are also official booksellers for the Bath Children’s Literature Festival. For tickets and more information visit bathfestivals.org.uk