Have your say in choosing Ireland’s next Laureate na nÓg

Ireland’s current  Laureate na nOg, author and illustrator Niamh Sharkey

Ireland’s current Laureate na nOg, author and illustrator Niamh Sharkey

Wed, Dec 11, 2013, 17:52

The nomination process for Ireland’s next children’s laureate is now open. Laureate na nÓg, an iniatiative 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.”

It is fitting that Ireland, as a country world-renowned for its literature, was one of the first to establish such an honour in the field of children’s literature. Irish children’s literature and illustration is recognised worldwide, and there is a huge appetite for children’s and young adult books at home. Indigenous Irish literature serves a crucial function, telling Irish stories, past and present, in English and in Irish, to young readers.

The past and current laureates have acted as ambassadors in countries including the US, Sweden, Austria and Belgium. For example Pictiúr, an exhibition of Irish children’s illustration, has been seen by 25,000 people in four countries.

Elaina O’Neill, 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.”

As Ireland is 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, where further details are also available. Nominations should be submitted by February 15th, 2014.

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.