Joseph Coelho, award-winning performance poet, playwright and children’s author, has this week been crowned the Waterstones Children’s Laureate 2022 – 2024. The Laureate is the foremost representative of children’s literature, awarded biannually to a renowned writer or illustrator in recognition of exceptional talent.
“Poetry is powerful, it is the medium we turn to at weddings, funerals and new births because it goes beyond mere words, poetry translates the soul. I want to use the prestigious platform of the Waterstones Children’s Laureate to highlight and celebrate the power of poetry. To invite the nation, young and old, to write poems, to become poets.
I want to ensure that every child has the opportunity to see themselves in books and as bookmakers through the plethora of new and exciting voices we have coming out of the UK – to diversify bookshelves so that every child can imagine themselves as writers, illustrators and poets. And, finally I want to hug every library, these miraculous institutions where new horizons line the shelves, where minds go to grow.
Libraries made me a writer and make communities thrive – I wish to champion the services of these essential launchpads of learning.”
To deliver Coelho’s ambitions, his Laureateship will focus on three major projects:
‘Bookmaker Like You’ will showcase new talent within the industry and spotlight their work, so that children are introduced to a range of creatives that truly reflect everyone in our diverse society, and ensure that every child can see themselves as a bookmaker.
‘Poetry Prompts’ will celebrate the power of poetry in all its forms, breaking down the fear often associated with reading and writing to show why poems are for everyone, and the joy that writing, reading and performing poetry can bring.
Coelho will also champion local libraries, highlighting the vital role they play within the community and inspiring a love of reading in young people, by completing his ‘Library Marathon’ to join a library in every local authority in the UK, and encourage even more people to register with their local library.
The Waterstones Children’s Laureate is organised by Booktrust.