June 4, 2013 / 11:55 AM / in 4 years

Malorie Blackman named UK Children's Laureate

LONDON (Reuters) - "Noughts and Crosses" author Malorie Blackman was named Britain's Children's Laureate, on Tuesday.

The post recognizes outstanding achievement and the importance of exceptional authors in encouraging reading.

Blackman, whose books tackle issues including racism and ethnic identity will use the role to get "more young people reading more," she told Reuters.

"I aim to make reading more irresistible and I want more children to love and be enthusiastic about stories and books," she said.

She will promote the availability of a wider range of literature for children.

"I want books with more diverse genres and more translated books to be available to broaden the reading horizons of every child."

She will continue the work of previous laureate, "The Gruffalo" author Julia Donaldson, in championing the role of public libraries, which have been closing due to government spending cuts.

She highlighted the importance of libraries in enabling her to become an author, and said that without them children from poorer backgrounds would not have access to technology like personal computers that are now vital for learning.

"Libraries are one of the only truly classless institutions, and if they close down literacy levels, reading ability and educational attainment are going to suffer."

"I appreciate that budgets are tight but shutting down libraries is very, very short-sighted."

Blackman who started her working life as a computer programmer wants to get children to use technology to create their own works and to share them.

As well as Donaldson, previous laureates have included Anthony Browne, Michael Rosen and Anne Fine.

Reporting by Simon Falush, editing by Paul Casciato

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