Cressida Cowell crowned UK literacy champion as she wins Ruth Rendell Award 2017

06 Dec 2017
Cressida Cowell, Ruth Rendell

Cressida Cowell has won the coveted Ruth Rendell Award 2017 for her tireless championing of literacy throughout the UK. The beloved children’s author and illustrator was presented with the award by John Wittingdale MP at the All-Party Parliamentary Writers Group Winter Reception in the House of Commons. 

The award, launched in memory of bestselling author Ruth Rendell in 2016 by the National Literacy Trust and Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society, celebrates the author who has done the most to champion literacy throughout the UK over the past year. 

Over the course of the year, Cressida Cowell: 

  • Travelled the length and breadth of the UK to deliver reading for enjoyment and creative writing events and workshops to 15,000 school children
  • Was an author ambassador for a wealth of literacy campaigns on behalf of charities and organisations including the National Literacy Trust, BookTrust, The Reading Agency, World Book Day and the Premier League
  • Judged several creative writing and drawing competitions for children, including Blue Peter’s Design a Dragon for the Kew Garden Pagoda competition, as well as a number of book awards, including the Costa Book Award, the Wicked Young Writer Awards and the Carmelite Prize
  • Won the prestigious Hay Festival Medal for Fiction (the first children’s author to pick up the prize in the award’s history)

On winning the Ruth Rendell Award 2017, Cressida Cowell said: 

“I’m deeply touched and honoured to be the recipient of this year’s Ruth Rendell Award. Thank you so much to the National Literacy Trust, ALCS and the judging panel. I do feel, though, that I should be passing it back to the National Literacy Trust, whose unstinting work on behalf of children is so crucial. 

"I’m part of a community of authors, librarians, teachers, booksellers and literacy organisations whose advocacy is still very badly needed: one in eight disadvantaged children still do not own a book, and one in three children leave Primary School lacking the ability to read well. My first role as a children’s book writer is to get as many children as possible reading for pleasure, in the same way that I read for the joy of it when I was a child. Books have a unique capacity for awakening empathy and creative thinking, and reading for pleasure has a significant, measurable impact on academic achievement, happiness and earning potential.”

Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust, said:

“We are delighted to announce Cressida as the winner of this year’s Ruth Rendell Award. Cressida lives and breathes her faith in the transformative power of books, making it both her personal and professional mission to change children’s lives through literacy. Not only have Cressida’s wonderfully written and illustrated books inspired millions of children to fall in love with reading, but her workshops and events are legendary for inspiring children to start writing stories of their own. Cressida’s wonderful impact on children’s literacy in the UK cannot be underestimated.”