Catholic novelist and screenwriter Frank Cottrell-Boyce is new children’s laureate

Catholic Novelist and screenwriter Frank Cottrell-Boyce has been announced as the new children’s laureate.

He will take on the role, which involves championing reading and children’s books, from this year until 2026.

Cottrell-Boyce said he was “so proud” to be the new children’s laureate, adding: “Writing and reading has transformed my life.”

He takes over from Joseph Coelho, known for his Luna Loves picture books and Fairy Tales Gone Bad, who has held the position for the last two years.

Other previous incumbents of the role include Julia Donaldson, Quentin Blake, Jacqueline Wilson, Michael Rosen, Anne Fine, Malorie Blackman and Michael Morpurgo.

Cottrell-Boyce was presented with the bespoke silver laureate medal by Coelho at a ceremony at Howard Assembly Room in Leeds on Tuesday.

“I write children’s books because I think they help build the apparatus of happiness inside us,” Cottrell-Boyce said in a statement.

“I’m privileged to be part of those intimate, crucial, person-forming moments when people share stories with the children in their lives.”

But he also warned the benefits of children’s reading had not been taken seriously enough, adding: “We risk losing a generation unless we act.”

Liverpool-based Cottrell-Boyce said his tenure as laureate would be about “urgency”, with the intention of “addressing invisible privilege and inequality”.

“It will be about the increasing number of children in poverty being left further and further behind,” he said.

“It will be about calling for national provision so that every child – from their earliest years – has access to books, reading and the transformative ways in which they improve long-term life chances.”

The Waterstones Children’s Laureate is reappointed every two years to a renowned writer or illustrator.

Managed by BookTrust – the aim of the role is to celebrate creativity and storytelling, promote reading and children’s literature, and champion the right of all children to enjoy lives enriched by books.

Cottrell-Boyce won the Carnegie Medal for his debut novel Millions, published in 2004, which was also made into a film directed by Danny Boyle.

His other novels include Cosmic, Framed, The Astounding Broccoli Boy, Runaway Robot and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again – an official sequel commissioned by the Fleming Estate.

His work for the screen includes co-writing the Platinum Jubilee Paddington sketch as well as credits on Doctor Who, Goodbye Christopher Robin and The Beautiful Game.



Pic: © Waterstones/ David Bebber