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Award-winning author Ursula Dubosarsky is the new Children's Laureate

Award-winning author Ursula Dubosarsky is the new Children's Laureate

Ursula Dubosarsky was announced as the Children's Laureate for 2020-21 this morning. She succeeds Morris Gleitzman as the most recent laureate. Other authors who have held the title include Leigh Hobbs, Jackie French, Boori Monty Pryor and Alison Lester. 

Ursula Dubosarsky is the author of over 60 books for children and young adults, such as the 'Word Spy' series which teaches kids about grammar and etymology. 

The role of the laureate is to promote the importance of reading, creativity and story in the lives of Australian children.

We spoke to Ursula about this wonderful opportunity, his/her tips for parents who want to get their children reading, and the books he/she has never quite outgrown.

When did you first know that you wanted to write for children? 

I knew I wanted to be a writer from the age of six, when I learned to read and write. But I didn’t know what I wanted to write or who to write for, just that I wanted to be a writer. It was in my mid-twenties that I realized that everything I sat down to write was either about or for children, and so in that way it happened very naturally. And that has never changed.

What did you think and how did you feel when you first knew that you would be Australia’s 6th Children’s Laureate?

Shocked! Excited. Nervous! Wondering. Daunted. Thrilled. Wow. Really? I’m still getting used to the idea!

Why do you think it’s important for Australia to have a Children’s Laureate?

The idea of the Laureate is to be a central focus in strong support of all those people, organisations and institutions all over the country who do so much wonderful work to encourage children’s reading, and to wave the flag vigorously for the vital role of reading in our children’s lives.

What would you like to achieve during your period as Laureate?

My mission is to get as many children as possible all across Australia to join their local library. To create a generation of readers and writers you need a lot of books – more books than any one family or even school can ever provide. In the local library children can visit regularly, for free, and experiment, find books they like and books they don’t like, form their own taste and develop their own agency over their reading. My intention is, wherever I go, to urge children, parents, teachers, everyone – to go in and get the children to join their local library. And in particular to get their own card, to help forge that personal bond with the library and the books they choose to read.

What tip would you give parents of reluctant readers?

Personal motivation in anything in life is critical. I would say take your children to the library regularly, every week, even just for a few minutes.  Let them loose, just tell them to pick one single book to take home. They don’t have to like it, just pick something. Then go back and do it again the week after and the week after that. And after that. Your child will eventually find something they want to read for themselves. That personal ownership of reading is what will make lifelong readers.

Have you kept any favourite books from your childhood? What are they and why do you love them?

I’ve kept the first book I remember learning to read for myself, Biquette the White Goat by a French American writer-illustrator called Francoise, about a little girl who is sick and the doctor says she can only drink goat’s milk.  I’ve also got Dr Seuss’ I Had Trouble In Getting To Solla Sollew, which was a birthday present when I was eight, and set me up as a lifelong lover of rhyming stories.  And I’ve kept a very battered and loved copy of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie that my dad bought me at a fete at Gladesville Hospital in about 1971.  I still read all three of these books fairly regularly – I’ve never outgrown them.