Deadline looms to nominate next Laureate na nÓg

Laureate na nÓg Niamh Sharkey with, from left, Charlie Johnson; Annika Solomon; Cara Thornton; George Lawrenson; and James Lawrenson. The Children’s Laureate is an initiative of the Arts Council with the support of the Office of the Minister for Children, Children’s Books Ireland, Poetry Ireland and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. Photograph: Maxwells

Laureate na nÓg Niamh Sharkey with, from left, Charlie Johnson; Annika Solomon; Cara Thornton; George Lawrenson; and James Lawrenson. The Children’s Laureate is an initiative of the Arts Council with the support of the Office of the Minister for Children, Children’s Books Ireland, Poetry Ireland and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. Photograph: Maxwells

Tue, Feb 4, 2014, 16:50

Readers have until Saturday, February 15th, to take part in the nomination process for Ireland’s next children’s laureate. Laureate na nÓg, an initiative of the Arts Council, is an honorary title conferred on an established and dynamic children’s author or illustrator for a period of two years. The next laureate will be following in the footsteps of the inaugural Laureate na nÓg, Siobhán Parkinson, and the incumbent, Niamh Sharkey.

Sarah Bannan, the Arts Council’s head of literature, said: “Laureate na nÓg is Ireland’s highest honour for a writer or illustrator of children’s books and was established by the Arts Council in order to celebrate the extraordinary talents of our writers and illustrators. Through this appointment and the Arts Council’s wider strategy for children’s literature, we are working to broaden and enrich young people’s imaginative worlds and to highlight the importance of Irish children’s literature, writers and illustrators in our society.”

The laureates have acted as ambassadors in the United States, Sweden, Austria and Belgium. For example Pictiúr, an exhibition of Irish children’s illustration, has been seen by 25,000 people in four countries. And at home Ireland’s laureates have campaigned for libraries and to secure access to books for all babies born in Ireland, among many other activities.

Elaina Ryan, director of Children’s Books Ireland, said: “Ireland’s first two laureates have been real champions for children’s literature and illustration, for reading and drawing, and for the importance of books in every child’s life. Laureate na nÓg is a most prestigious position which acknowledges the phenomenal talent of our native authors and illustrators and which we are so proud to administer on behalf of the Arts Council.”

Now it’s time for Ireland to choose its third Laureate na nÓg. For the first time, people of all ages have the opportunity to help decide which Irish author or illustrator they would like to see so honoured. Nomination forms are available from childrenslaureate.ie/nominate-your-new-laureate, where further details are also available.

Sharkey hopes as many people as possible will nominate their choice of laureate. “This is the first year that we’re asking children to get involved as nominators so I hope that parents and teachers all around the country will encourage kids to get nominating,” she said.