Lewisham raised author Malorie Blackman, OBE, was named Britain’s Children’s Laureate this week. A former scriptwriter for TV drama Byker Grove, she is the author of more than 60 books for children and teenagers, including Hacker, Cloud-Busting, Thief! and Pig-Heart Boy.
Blackman, whose books tackle issues including racism and ethnic identity will use the role to get “more young people reading more,” she told reporters.
“I aim to make reading more irresistible and I want more children to love and be enthusiastic about stories and books,” she said.
The 51-year-old, who worked as a computer programmer before becoming a full-time writer 23 years ago, said she owed her success to her local libraries when she was growing up in Lewisham, south-east London.
“Libraries are one of the only truly classless institutions, and if they close down literacy levels, reading ability and educational attainment are going to suffer.”
“I appreciate that budgets are tight but shutting down libraries is very, very short-sighted.”
Ms Blackman is the first black Waterstones Children’s Laureate and takes over from The Gruffalo author Julia Donaldson. The post recognises outstanding achievement and the importance of exceptional authors in encouraging reading.
The role of Children’s Laureate is awarded once every two years. It was created to celebrate exceptional children’s authors and illustrators and to acknowledge their importance in creating the readers of tomorrow.