Reading Australia ambassador Leigh Hobbs has been selected as the Australian Children’s Laureate for 2016/17.

He is the best-selling author of 20 books including The Big Book of Old Tom, which has a Reading Australia teacher resource, and he was one of the ten authors and illustrators interviewed by Tom Tilley as part of the Reading Australia/ABC Splash interview project.

Through funding provided by Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund, Hobbs will spend the next two years travelling to every Australian state and territory to promote the importance of reading and the value of children’s and youth literature in Australia’s literary culture.

Hobbs has had an enormous impact on the world of children’s books, both in Australia and internationally. His most-loved characters include Old Tom, Horrible Harriet and Mr Chicken.

Part of his popularity comes from his refusal to create characters that are ‘goody-two shoes’, instead preferring the messy, naughty, misbehaving sort. His books have also spawned the successful Old Tom television series

For years, Hobbs has used his skills as an art teacher to conduct workshops with children. The children get the chance to talk to Hobbs about his books, they learn how to draw his characters, and gain the confidence to create their own art.

He is also a successful artist, with his paintings and sculptures on display in various locations including the Sydney Powerhouse Museum, The State Libraries of Victoria and Western Australia and private collections.

Every laureate has their own individual theme that characterises their term as Children’s Laureate. The theme for Hobbs’ two-year term will be ‘to champion creative opportunities for children, and to highlight the essential role libraries play in nurturing our creative lives’.

‘Libraries have played an enormous role in my life’, Hobbs says. ‘Reading and exploring history and art is something I have been able to do because of libraries. I’m passionately interested in histories and cultures and I hope that through my work I can encourage children to explore and experience these things too.’

Hobbs is succeeding Jackie French who was the Children’s Laureate in 2014/2015.

Watch Hobbs’ Reading Australia/ABC Splash interview here.

For more information, visit the Australian Children’s Laureate website.