Popular author Eloise Williams has been selected as the first Children’s Laureate Wales. This new national ambassadorial post run by Literature Wales, 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 was one of the first authors to be published by Firefly Press in 2015, after her first story for children, Elen’s Island, was shortlisted for the Firefly Children’s Book Award. The story, for 7-9 year olds, is set on a magical island off the coast of Pembrokeshire and reflects Eloise’s love of the sea and the Welsh coast which echoes through her other books, Gaslight and Seaglass, both for 8-12 year olds. Eloise’s fourth book, Wilde, will publish with Firefly Press in May 2020.
Firefly publisher Penny Thomas said: ‘Eloise has a talent for creating magical setting and characters in her books, and for engaging children in stories and reading. She will make a wonderful first children’s laureate and we are extremely proud to be her publisher.’
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.”
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