Children's Laureates Tour Ireland

Australians Alison Lester and Boori Monty Pryor give workshops in Belfast and Derry~Londonderry during Easter for the Story, Book, Grow initiative

The very first visit by the Australian Children’s Laureates to the island of Ireland takes place between the April 1 - 3, when Story, Book, Grow, a unique literary event event, brings together children, writers and practitioners with the common purpose of nurturing creativity, literacy, a love of books and storytelling among children and young people.

Arriving in Belfast (from the Bologna Children’s Book Fair), Alison Lester and Boori Monty Pryor will take part in a series of free workshops at the Crescent Arts Centre on Easter Monday, and will then travel to the Verbal Arts Centre in Derry~Londonderry on Tuesday for further workshops and an interview session hosted by Joe Mahon of Lesser Spotted Culture.

The final day of events on Wednesday will be hosted by Children’s Books Ireland at the National Library in Dublin. The workshops delivered by the Laureates will include storytelling, book making and a master-class for practitioners and writers looking at best practice in working with children and young people.

Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland said: ‘As world leaders in child development through the arts, the Australians have much to teach us, especially about recognising and nurturing the stories of our own communities, both old and new. We are looking forward to their contribution to our cultural calendar, which we are sure will leave a legacy from which our children can only benefit.’

Research by Book Trust UK has revealed that 64% of parents never share books with their babies and that nearly as many (57%) don't own a single baby book. Additional research by Professor Yvonne Kelly of the Institute for Social & Economic Research (ISER), University of Essex (2011) suggests that the strongest predictors of childhood development was reading to children on a daily basis.

As the Australian Children’s Laureates for 2012 and 2013, Alison Lester and Boori Monty Pryor are national and international ambassadors for Australian children’s literature, inspiring young people to tell their own stories and be part of an active literary culture for enjoyment, wellbeing and success in life.

Boori Monty Pryor was born in North Queensland. His father is from the Birrigubba of the Bowen region and his mother from Yarrabah (near Cairns), a descendant of the Kungganji and Kukuimudji. Boori has worked in film, television, modelling, sport, music and theatre-in-education, and has written several award-winning books with Meme McDonald including Maybe Tomorrow.

Alison Lester is a best-selling writer and illustrator of children's books, and has won many awards. ‘I can’t wait to come to Ireland,' said Lester. 'I’ve wanted to visit for as long as I’ve been able to read, I guess, because so many of the books I love are set in Ireland. It’s going to be wonderful to meet the Irish Laureate, and I hope to make some books with Irish children.’

Laureate na nÓg is an initiative of the Arts Council Ireland, 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 has 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.

As with the Australian Children’s Literature Alliance, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland champions the transformational power of reading in the lives of young people, believing the results of exposure to literature and the arts offers an inspiring platform for creativity and communication for younger generations.

View the full Story, Book, Grow programme of events.