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Today, at the Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London, Cressida Cowell was announced the newest Waterstones Children’s Laureate. Cressida is well-known for her book series, How to Train Your Dragon and The Wizards of Once. She is taking over from Lauren Child, known for her characters Charlie and Lola, Clarice Bean and Ruby Redfort.

As Laureate, Lauren Child presented her outlook on children’s creativity and proposed the idea that children should often take the time to stare into space. She felt that the time taken staring into space can be the time when you can solve problems and even come up with your best ideas. She was happy to hand over the two-year role to Cressida Cowell, the number one international best-selling author-illustrator who has sold over 11 million books worldwide in 38 different languages.

Cressida Cowell at her beloved writing shed

Her most popular series, How to Train Your Dragon, is also an award-winning billion-dollar DreamWorks film series, and a TV series shown on Netflix and CBBC. Cressida is an ambassador for the National Literacy Trust, a trustee for World Book Day and a founder of the Children’s Media Foundation. She has won numerous prizes for her works including the Blue Peter Book Award. In her speech, Cressida introduced her ‘giant to do list’, more formally known as the ‘Cressida Cowell Waterstones Children’s Laureate Charter’, which states every child has the right to:

  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 the Children’s Laureate, it’s her job to get children excited about books, reading and writing. This is why all of the points on Cressida’s list were made to help make sure that books and reading are available to everyone from a young age. She feels strongly about children not having access to books and said, “Books and reading are magic, and this magic must be available to absolutely everyone.”

She also said, “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.”

At the ceremony, she spoke about the importance of school libraries and her plans to make sure libraries across the country are funded properly and have proper trained librarians who can provide help for their customers. As well as this she also spoke about helping develop children’s creative intelligence and her plans to argue a creative space into the school curriculum.

Cressida grew up in London and in a small uninhabited town in Scotland with no electricity, roads or shops. She said this helped her imagination as there wasn’t the distraction of technology and she had only books, and she loved to make up stories about Vikings and caves in the evenings. This is why she is trying to encourage more creative time in the curriculum so kids can get their brains working and, similarly to Lauren Child’s ideas, have less time around screens such as school tablets, computers or phones.

Cowell’s inspirational How To Train Your Dragon series