Yesterday, I was helping to chair a quite extraordinary meeting of all sorts of people: authors, illustrators, publishers, agents, librarians, teachers, teacher trainers, journalists, critics, representatives from organisations involved in promoting reading and literacy, booksellers, and others involved in the world of children's books. We were all there to hear Michael Rosen talk about how we can get reading for pleasure, for fun, for enjoyment back into our schools. All those terms don't really work. Independent reading is all those things, but much more. It is the way to independent thought and full intellectual maturity. There was much discussion and a lot of points raised. I'm not sure what will happen next, but something will. With Arnold Shwarzenegger wanting to rid schools of books altogether, something has to happen. Watch this space.
Thursday, 11 June 2009
I've had a busy couple of days in London. On Tuesday, I went to the reception for the new Children's Laureate. It was all a very well kept secret, but if I'd spotted the gent in question, I would have known it was him. I could not have been more pleased when we finally got to the 'without further ado' moment and the new laureate was announced. Anthony Browne. He is an immensely talented and distinguished illustrator, astonishingly creative, genuinely inspirational and a really nice guy. His picture books are extraordinarily clever, but instantly accessible; full of detail that re-pays looking and re-looking. Part of his success lies in the fact that adults and children both quickly become absorbed by his work, stepping into the immensely rich world he creates in his books. He has an enormous reputation abroad, and I hope that he can get the British to finally appreciate the great wealth of artists and illustrators that we have in this country. I also hope that he gets everybody to play the Shape Game!