Since 2012 some exceptional Australian authors and illustrators have taken on the role of Australian Children's Laureate.
They have spoken to more than 300,000 people of all ages – yes 300,000 people – in schools and libraries, at conferences and festivals in all Australian states and territories.
They have travelled overseas and been to the Bologna Children’s Book Fair in Italy to meet with Children’s Laureates from other countries.
They have been very busy!
Ursula Dubosarsky: 2020–21
'Stories Make Us'
Ursula directly engaged with more than 15,000 young people during her term as Laureate, encouraging all young people to join a library.
“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.”
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.
Morris Gleitzman: 2018–19
'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.
‘Young people need stories more than ever. Stories to delight, stories to beguile, stories to inspire, stories to move deeply.’
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.
Leigh Hobbs: 2016–17
'It's Your Story'
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.
‘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.’
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.
Jackie French: 2014–15
'Share a Story'
Jackie encouraged everyone she met as Laureate to enjoy a story together.
‘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.’
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!
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 Monty Pryor: 2012–13
Boori shared his own curiosity and imagination as Laureate to encourage children to become storytellers.
‘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.’
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.
Alison Lester: 2012–13
'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.
‘Reading is essential…to keep exploring and to remain curious…we all need to see our own lives reflected in books.’
As a writer, and illustrator, Alison encouraged young Australians to create books about their special place using their own stories and drawings.