04 July 2022 Share
Award-winning performance poet, playwright and children’s author Joseph Coelho has been announced as the 12th Waterstones Children’s Laureate 2022 – 2024.
Coelho was presented with the bespoke silver Laureate medal by outgoing Waterstones Children’s Laureate, Cressida Cowell MBE, at a ceremony held at The Unicorn Theatre, London.
The Waterstones Children’s Laureate is the foremost representative of children’s literature, awarded biannually to a renowned writer or illustrator in recognition of exceptional talent. Managed by BookTrust – the UK’s largest children’s reading charity – and sponsored by Waterstones, this prestigious role celebrates creativity and storytelling, promotes the vital importance of reading and children’s literature, and champions the right of every child to enjoy a lifetime enriched with books and stories. Each Laureate brings their own passion and creativity to their tenure.
At today’s ceremony, Joseph Coelho – who is acclaimed for his work including the Luna Loves picture books, middle grade series Fairy Tales Gone Bad, YA verse novel The Girl Who Became a Tree, as well as poetry collections for all ages including Overheard in a Tower Block and Poems Aloud – revealed that his tenure will celebrate the power of poetry, showcase new authors and illustrators to diversify bookshelves and inspire bookmakers of the future, and champion public libraries and the role they play in communities. Coelho also performed a new poem written to mark the occasion, entitled ‘The Power of a Poem’.
Joseph Coelho, Waterstones Children’s Laureate 2022–2024, said: “Poetry is powerful, it is the medium we turn to at weddings, funerals and new births because it goes beyond mere words, poetry translates the soul. I want to use the prestigious platform of the Waterstones Children's Laureate to highlight and celebrate the power of poetry. To invite the nation, young and old, to write poems, to become poets.
I want to ensure that every child has the opportunity to see themselves in books and as bookmakers through the plethora of new and exciting voices we have coming out of the UK - to diversify bookshelves so that every child can imagine themselves as writers, illustrators and poets. And, finally I want to hug every library, these miraculous institutions where new horizons line the shelves, where minds go to grow.
Libraries made me a writer and make communities thrive - I wish to champion the services of these essential launchpads of learning.”
To deliver Coelho’s ambitions, his Laureateship will focus on three major projects: