New children’s laureate launches masked crusade for libraries in schools

Chris Riddell, author of the award-winning Goth Girl series of books and a political cartoonist, has been named as the ninth children’s laureate.

Mr Riddell launched his laureateship this morning by celebrating the importance of school libraries – and school librarians – in helping children to become readers and thinkers.

He questioned the lack of a statutory requirement for all schools to have an on-site library.

“It’s bizarre that it is not a requirement for the very places where children will learn how to read, draw, think and create to have a space for books,” the new children’s laureate said.

“I want to help and encourage every school to do more for readers. If they have nowhere to read, create a space with a few books; if they have a bookshelf, have two; if they have a reading room, aim for a library.”

The title of children’s laureate is awarded every two years to an eminent author or illustrator of children’s books.

Mr Riddell, an illustrator, author and cartoonist, has twice won the prestigious Kate Greenaway Medal for illustration in children’s book. He takes over from outgoing laureate Malorie Blackman.

Previous children’s laureates have included illustrator Quentin Blake, as well as authors Jacqueline Wilson, Michael Morpurgo and Julia Donaldson.

At his inauguration ceremony, held at a central London bookshop, Mr Riddell put on a Zorro-style black mask and referred to himself as “The Doodler” – the masked champion of artistic ambition.

He said that he would use his laureateship to highlight the importance of creativity in schools and beyond. “During my term, I want to use the immediacy and universality of illustration to bring people together and lead them all into the wonderful world of books and reading,” he said.

Mr Riddell’s term as children’s laureate runs until 2017.

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