A hushed expectation greeted Viv Bird of the Book Trust as she took to the podium to make the first speech of the event this morning in London's Kings Cross.
Yet the audience were not to be let off lightly, first there were the speeches to listen too, from Ed Vaizey, minister for culture to representatives from sponsor's Waterstones, the Publisher's Association and the last Children's Laureate Anthony Browne, until Floella Benjamin, chair of the Laureate selection panel, herself a children's author of over 20 books and strong campaigner for children's book and human rights, took to the podium and ... welcomed all her 'playschool babies.' Floella delivered her own moving and interesting speech before revealing that Julia had been the choice of the panel to take on the role of Children's Laureate for the next two years.
We heard, from each speaker, how important books and reading are, particularly in the current climate with library closures and competition for children's attention with new technologies. Despite this we were assured that reading remains a fundamental cornerstone of every child's education and that Julia plans to reinforce this, after she recovers from the awe she feels. Explaining that she was impressed by Anthony Browne's effort to tour Scotland, visiting six schools in a week, she plans, as the first Scottish based Laureate, to better that whilst also promoting reading for children throughout the UK. Her primary aims, she explained, will be to bring books and reading to children through drama and music as well as furthering the work done with deaf children, being partially deaf herself.
An exciting two years await Julia and the team at Armadillo wish her all the best whilst looking forward to her work and initiatives in her new role. we too will be continuing to work to further the importance of children's reading and ensure libraries in the community and our schools remain open for all.