The Australian Children's Laureate is the national ambassador for reading and Australian children's literature.
The Laureate's role is to promote the transformational power of reading, creativity and story in the lives of young Australians.
The Laureate speaks on behalf of all creators and of the entire industry, representing reading advocates, educators, librarians, booksellers and publishers. The formation of strong international links with other Laureates is also giving visibility to the work being done in Australia at international literary forums.
The Australian Children's Laureate Initiative has been developed by the Australian Children’s Laureate Foundation (ACLF) following the successful implementation of this idea in the UK.
2020–21 Ursula Dubosarsky: 'Read For Your Life!'
Ursula directly engaged with more than 15,000 young people during her term as Laureate, encouraging all young people to join a library.
The onset of the COVID pandemic saw Ursula become ‘The Virtual Laureate’, visiting kids across Australia as they navigated learning from home. Despite the shift to digital, Ursula never wavered in her passion as she shared her most important message – the incomparable power of reading.
“I hope that more children and adults think about the library as a place that is as much a vital part of a child’s life as the park or the local pool.”
2018–19 Morris Gleitzman: 'Stories Make Us'
Morris spoke to more than 55,000 young people when he was Laureate and encouraged them to read stories so they could be ready to face the world with great hope and optimism.
His stories are often about serious topics but somehow he always manages to make them funny, and make you think about the world in a different way after reading them.
‘Young people need stories more than ever. Stories to delight, stories to beguile, stories to inspire, stories to move deeply.’
Leigh focussed his Laureate program on supporting the valuable work that teacher librarians do in school libraries by inspiring children to read, and love stories.
Leigh’s book characters like Old Tom, Horrible Harriet, Fiona the Pig and especially Mr Chicken enjoyed travelling around Australia, and the world, with Leigh when he was Laureate.
‘Libraries have played an enormous role in my life. Reading and exploring history and art is something I have been able to do because of libraries.’
2014–15 Jackie French: 'Share a Story'
Jackie encouraged everyone she met as Laureate to enjoy a story together.
Jackie also believes there is a ‘Magic Book’ for every child – a book that excites each person to go on to read more books. Maybe even one about a naughty wombat!
‘There are a million ways to share a story. To have a child read to you while you cook dinner; to read to the dog when it has to go to the vet; to join a storytelling session at your library.’
First Australian Children's Laureates: 2012–13
Much-loved children’s authors Alison Lester and Boori Monty Pryor were Australia’s first Children’s Laureates. They were appointed together to start off the first Laureate program because of their shared creative spirit.
"They are both inspiring, creative and passionate," explained Illustrator Ann James, former ACLF Board member.
Boori shared his own curiosity and imagination as Laureate to encourage children to become storytellers.
Boori enjoyed telling stories to so many people as he travelled around Australia, especially those stories he learnt as a young Indigenous boy in North Queensland. He was often seen dancing and shaking a leg, like you can read about in his ‘Shake a Leg’ book.
‘We need curious children and to have curious children we need children who are not only able to read but children who WANT to read.’
2012–13 Alison Lester: 'This is My Place'
Alison knows that young readers are our future thinkers and as Laureate she inspired children, their families and friends to read.
As a writer, and illustrator, Alison encouraged young Australians to create books about their special place using their own stories and drawings.