President Michael D. Higgins announced author and illustrator Niamh Sharkey as Laureate na nÓg, Ireland’s laureate for children’s literature, presenting her with the Laureate na nÓg medal at a special event at the Arts Council.
Laureate na nÓg is an initiative of the Arts Council with the support of the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Children’s Books Ireland, Poetry Ireland and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. The honour was been established to engage young people with high quality children’s literature and to underline the importance of children’s literature in our cultural and imaginative life.
Niamh Sharkey is an author and illustrator of children's picture books, which have been translated into over twenty languages. Her books have won numerous awards including the prestigious Mother Goose Award and the Bisto Book of the Year Award. Niamh is the creator and associate producer of The Happy Hugglemonsters, a 52 episode pre-school animation series, based on her book The Hugglewugs, which will air on Disney Junior in over 150 countries in 2012.
Speaking about her appointment Niamh Sharkey said: "It is a great honour to be chosen as the next Laureate na nÓg. I am a picturebook maker so my focus as Laureate will certainly be visual as well as literary. I am going to get to do even more of what I love most - promoting quality children's literature and encouraging children to read, write and draw. I have lots of ideas that I hope will inspire creativity in children of all ages. I'm very excited and can't wait to get started."
Pat Moylan, Chairman of the Arts Council, said: "The position of Laureate na nÓg highlights the value of literature and the arts for children and young people. The Arts Council is delighted to support this important role, which enables Ireland’s young citizens to experience the joy of literature and illustration from the youngest age."
Mags Walsh, Director of Children’s Books Ireland said: "In the two years since its establishment, the position of Laureate na nÓg has been able to highlight and celebrate the incredible talent and passion which exists in the Irish children’s books community. By bringing national and international attention to Irish children’s books, Laureate na nÓg has demonstrated the central role that books can play in every Irish childhood."