Gruffalo author Julia Donaldson named Children's Laureate

The Gruffalo author Julia Donaldson has been unveiled as the new Children's Laureate and said she will "relish" the role.

The 62-year-old writer, who was born in London but lives in Glasgow, takes on the two-year role from outgoing laureate Anthony Browne.

She said: "I think some people would not want to do it because they think it would distract them from writing but I relish that public role.

"My husband has been going on for years saying, 'You should be the Children's Laureate' so any resistance I might have had has been beaten down years ago."

Donaldson has written more than 120 books including The Snail And The Whale and teenage novel Running On The Cracks.

Her most famous work, The Gruffalo, tells the story of how a mouse outwits the mythical creature, and has sold millions of copies.

An animated film adaptation was nominated for an Oscar last year.

Donaldson said she was looking forward to becoming an "advocate" for reading but said she was not worried the work would get in the way of her writing.

She said: "Luckily I was quite productive before I knew about this so I got a couple of texts finished and there are more on the way so I don't think the public will notice any gaps."

She added she wanted to "explore the ways performance can help children enjoy reading and grow in confidence" and was thinking of planning "a big public performance" to mark the end of her stint in the role.

Donaldson said she would also like to promote signed stories for deaf children and add her voice to campaigns against library closures.

She was presented with the Children's Laureate medal and a £15,000 bursary cheque at an event in central London today by Baroness Floella Benjamin, who chaired this year's selection committee.

The former children's television presenter said Donaldson had "a passion to excite, educate and entertain children through her writing which fires up their imagination in a most delightful way".

Previous laureates since the post was created in 1999 have included Quentin Blake, Michael Morpurgo and Jacqueline Wilson.