Entertainment & Arts

Gruffalo author Julia Donaldson is children's laureate

Gruffalo author Julia Donaldson has been named as the new children's laureate.

She will take over from Anthony Browne, who has held the post since 2009.

The role, which has a bursary of £15,000, is awarded every two years to an eminent writer or illustrator of children's books.

"I hope to find every opportunity to be a spokesperson and advocate for children's books and reading," Donaldson said.

Previous children's laureates include Michael Rosen, Michael Morpurgo, Jacqueline Wilson and Quentin Blake.

Donaldson began her career writing songs for TV but in 1993, one of her songs, A Squash and a Squeeze, was made into a book, illustrated by Axel Scheffler.

The pair went on to collaborate on the best-selling picture book, The Gruffalo.

A film adaptation of The Gruffalo was nominated for an Oscar

She has written more than 120 books for children and teenagers to date, including The Gruffalo's Child, Room on the Broom, Zog and The Snail and the Whale.

"With my background in plays and song-writing, I am particularly keen to develop projects which link books with drama and music, and to explore the ways performance can help children enjoy reading and grow in confidence," she said.

She also wants to promote signing stories for deaf children and get involved in the children's laureate libraries campaign.

In 2010, The Gruffalo came out top in a survey of children's favourite books and in the same year, she was the most borrowed children's author from British libraries.

Almost one in five children (18%) picked the Julia Donaldson tale, while Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Peppa Pig came joint second with 11%.

More than 1,500 UK parents of primary school aged children took part in the research for free reading scheme Booktime.

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