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Eloise Williams named first Children’s Laureate Wales

Literature Wales has announced that popular Pembrokeshire-based children’s author Eloise Williams is the first Children’s Laureate Wales. This new national ambassadorial post aims to engage and inspire the children of Wales through literature, and to promote a child’s right to have their stories and voices heard.

The announcement was made on Wednesday 18 September in front of 150 pupils at Jubilee Park Primary School in Newport. Eloise is currently the school’s Patron of Reading and following the announcement she officially opened their new school library. In an open letter addressed to the children of Wales, Eloise emphasised how excited and honoured she was to be their Laureate; how she will do her very best to help them find the right stories for them; will push for them to see themselves well represented in literature; and most importantly, that their voices matter. You can read her letter in full on the Literature Wales website.

Eloise Williams worked as a touring actor and creative practitioner for over a decade before becoming a children’s writer. Her novel, Gaslight (Firefly Press, 2017) - which was written with the support of a Literature Wales New Writer’s Bursary - won the Wales Arts Review Young People’s Book of the Year 2017, the YBB Book Awards 2018, and was shortlisted for the Tir na nOg Awards 2018. Her latest novel for young people, Seaglass (Firefly Press, 2018), was also shortlisted for the Tir na nOg Awards in 2019, and the North East Book Awards 2019.

A regular speaker at festivals and events, she uses her drama skills to engage young people in children’s literature and now finds herself onstage more than she ever did as a professional actor.

Eloise said: “I’ve always loved stories. The joy of losing yourself in a good story is simply magical. Stories connect us, give us empathy and understanding, exercise our brains and imaginations, let us travel the world and experience the greatest wonders.

“Children’s literature is thriving and there couldn’t be a more exciting time to be involved in its growth in Wales. I feel passionately that there is a connection between children’s books and the hope I feel every time I walk into a classroom. I truly believe that young readers will make our futures bright and I’m honoured to be a part of that.”

Announced in May 2019 as part of Literature Wales’ new Strategic Plan (2019-22), the Children’s Laureate Wales will work alongside the Welsh-language equivalent, Bardd Plant Cymru, primarily working with children between the ages of 5-13. Eloise was appointed following a public call-out for writers to express their interest in the role.

Lleucu Siencyn, Chief Executive of Literature Wales, said about the announcement: “We’re delighted not only to launch this brand-new initiative, but to announce such a passionate, popular and engaging person to the role of Children’s Laureate Wales. Our vision is a Wales where literature empowers, improves and brightens lives. This role will increase the accessibility and impact of creative writing for our children and young people and make a significant contribution to their well-being.”

“Eloise will be a terrific advocate for creative reading and writing for pleasure, and for representation within children’s literature, and I look forward immensely to following her journey over the next two years.”

The Children’s Laureate Wales will visit a number of schools, clubs, festivals and events across Wales during their two-year tenure, as well as devising and delivering bespoke activity with Literature Wales’ target client groups.

To arrange a Children’s Laureate Wales school visit, or to discuss other activity, email Literature Wales on: childrenslaureate@literaturewales.org.