Sunday, December 11, 2011

Australia Appoints Children's Lit Laureates

Children's laureates have some stories to tell

10 Dec, 2011

TWO of Australia's most-loved children's authors will be appointed as Australia's first laureates for children's literature at a ceremony in Adelaide today.

During their two-year stint as Children's Laureates, Alison Lester and Boori Monty Pryor will travel to every state and territory to inspire as many children to read as possible.

The idea came from the Australian Children's Literature Alliance - a band of authors, publishers, booksellers, librarians, teachers and arts bodies - who believed it would raise the profile of children's books and entice more young Australians to read.

The $300,000 in funding, which will support the laureates for their two-year stint, came from the Cages Foundation - a private trust of the Salteri family who co-founded the Transfield empire.

Pryor, who this year won the Prime Minister's award for Children's Fiction, said as laureate he would continue the work he was already doing, travelling to remote communities to teach children to read, write and dance their own stories.

''One of the most frightening things in the world is a child who can't read and write,'' he said.

He said the word ''laureate'' conjured up images of smoking jackets and monocles, but maintained he would be sticking to his Akubra. ''I think I will probably be adding my little touch to it,'' he said.

The author of Noni the Pony, Lester said she liked the old-fashioned romance of the title and believed it would help raise awareness of children's literature in Australia.

''People keep saying books are going to have their day,'' she said. ''But especially for a child a book is the most wonderful way to travel and escape and discover.''

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