It's 20 years since the role of children's laureate was launched, and now the idea has been exported all over the world. Today at Hay, in two events, festival-goers listened to four UK and one Irish holder of the title – Lauren Child, Chris Riddell, Michael Rosen, Julia Donaldson and Sarah Crossan. They shared experiences of the role, and reported on some of the highlights during their two-year tenure.
Julia Donaldson embarked on a library tour from John O'Groats to Lands' End, entertaining children all along the route and acting out some of her and other authors' stories, using impromptu props and improvised costumes.
Lauren Child (UK) and Sarah Crossan (Ireland), spoke of their conviction that every child should have access to literature and to creativity.
Chris Riddell, described as "a cartoonist for all ages and all times" by the chair, Horatio Clare, himself an acclaimed children's author, said he had been inspired by the laureates preceding him, continued to champion libraries, and told the audience how important it was to keep absolutely everything you ever drew or wrote. He drew live on stage, leafed through his sketchbook with a running commentary, and then, as Michael Rosen performed a typically bizarre story, caricatured him while he spoke.
Rosen had teamed up with poets and also toured the UK to perform for and with children. He and Riddell agreed that although they had access to government ministers, their advice and suggestions of education were never taken up.
From left to right: Julia Donaldson, Chris Riddell, Michael Rosen, Julia Donaldson, Horatio Clare
Picture by Marsha Arnold
.If you like watching Hay Festival events digitally please sign up to Hay Player for more from the world's greatest writers and thinkers.