June 2013 – Malorie Blackman New Children's Laureate

Malorie Blackman, the bestselling author of the highly acclaimed and award-winning Noughts & Crosses teen series, has today (Tuesday 4 June) been crowned the Waterstones Children’s Laureate for 2013 – 2015. Blackman takes over from outgoing Children’s Laureate Julia Donaldson and was presented with her medal at a ceremony at King’s Place in central London this morning. 

The role of Children’s Laureate is awarded once every two years to an eminent author or illustrator of children’s books to celebrate outstanding achievement in their field. She is the eighth author to be bestowed with the honour.

Blackman said on her appointment: “I am honoured to have been chosen as the eighth Children's Laureate. A love of books has opened so many doors for me. Stories have inspired me and taught me to aspire. I've been a professional author for over 20 years, so I feel now is the time to give something back. I hope to instil in every child I meet my love and enthusiasm for reading and stories. And as I would never have become an author if it hadn't been for my local library as a child, I intend to continue Julia Donaldson's amazing, indefatigable work advocating for our nation's public library service.”

As the Waterstones Children’s Laureate for 2013 – 2015 Blackman will call on teachers and parents to spend at least ten minutes per day sharing a book with their pupils and children in an impassioned bid to get ‘more children reading more’. Drawing on her years of experience talking to her teen readers, Blackman will be working to make reading ‘irresistible’ for teenagers, encouraging them to explore a range of literature genre and forms, from short stories to graphic novels. She will also be encouraging them to make their own creative responses to books, using a range of expressive mediums, to include music – Blackman was referenced in Tinie Tempah’s song ‘Written in the Stars’ – art, film, drama, animation, poetry, and spoken word. Blackman, who started her working life as a computer programmer, is passionate about the role that technology plays in making literature come alive for a generation of digitally-aware young people. 

A former script-writer for Byker Grove, Blackman is the author of over 60 books for children and teenagers, including the award-winning Hacker, Cloud-Busting, and Thief!. Her novel Pig-Heart Boy was shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal and was adapted into a BAFTA-winning television series. She is celebrated for writing about a diverse range of characters, including those who are often marginalised in society, such as teenage fathers in her novel Boys Don’t Cry. The multi-award-winning Noughts & Crosses was her first book in which the issues of race and ethnic identity were placed in the foreground, depicting a world in which black people, or ‘Crosses’, are the ruling elite and white people, or ‘Noughts’, are confined to minority status, denied legal rights and work in menial jobs. In 2008 she was honoured with an OBE for her services to children’s literature. 

Blackman was presented with the specially commissioned solid silver Children’s Laureate medal and a £15,000 bursary cheque by Channel 4 News anchor Krishnan Guru-Murthy, a member of the Children’s Laureate 2013 – 2015 selection committee. He was joined on the committee by: Adam Lancaster, Associate Head Teacher at Monk’s Walk School and School Librarian of the Year 2012; Melissa Cox, Children's New Titles Buyer for Waterstones, and some of the members of the Children’s Laureate Steering Group.

Guru-Murthy said of Blackman’s selection: “Malorie Blackman's stories are gripping, daring and reach out to young people who might otherwise spend all their time on video games and the internet. The panel are unanimous in believing she will be a brilliant and passionate Children's Laureate.”

The post was established in 1999 to celebrate exceptional children’s authors and illustrators and to acknowledge their importance in creating the readers of tomorrow. Previous Laureates are: Quentin Blake (1999 – 2001), Anne Fine (2001 – 2003), Michael Morpurgo (2003 – 2005), Jacqueline Wilson (2005 – 2007), Michael Rosen (2007 – 2009), Anthony Browne (2009 – 2011) and Julia Donaldson (2011 – 2013).

Waterstones is the lead sponsor of the Children’s Laureate post, with other sponsorship and funding coming from children’s publishers, and Arts Council England (ACE). The Authors Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS) also join as new sponsors of the Children’s Laureate for 2013-2015. Independent literature charity Booktrust continues to manage the award. 

Waterstones MD James Daunt comments on Blackman’s appointment: “This is a wonderful appointment. Malorie will bring her trademark energy to the role and be a great Children’s Laureate. We at Waterstones will be proud to support her over the next two years.”