Charlie And Lola creator Lauren Child warned that young people are under huge pressure as she was announced as the new Children’s Laureate.
The best-selling author and illustrator, who was crowned the tenth Waterstones Children’s Laureate at a ceremony in Hull, said children were grappling with everything from social media to the recent terrorist attacks.
Child, whose Charlie And Lola books were turned into a hit TV series, said: “There are so many pressures on children. School is a pressure, their futures are a pressure.
“They’re always hearing such gloomy things, from what’s going on recently to house prices and there’s all the social media.
“Social media at its best is a wonderful thing, it’s about connections and communication, but it’s also a real pressure.”
The author, also known for her Clarice Bean picture books and Ruby Redfort novels, said children’s lives had become “very structured” with little room for the creativity “vital” for them “to be able to explore the world”.
“If we allowed our children a little bit more time to dream and stare into space they make connections and that’s how you have ideas and great ideas,” she said.
She said adults had to talk to children about the recent terrorist attacks in Manchester and London to stop what they will hear or read about anyway becoming a “monster” in their minds.
“It has an enormous effect on children. I remember what was going on when I was little, it was the big threat of nuclear war, it was terrifying,” the award-winning author said.
“But if people don’t talk about it with you, you feel very isolated and it’s a monster growing in your head.”
The author said that there were not enough strong girls and characters from diverse backgrounds in picture books or on-screen.
“I see it [lacking] all the time in picture books and everyday on my television. I also see girls being under-represented in lead roles and in strong roles,” she said.
Child was presented with her medal from outgoing Laureate Chris Riddell at a ceremony in this year’s UK City of Culture.
Previous holders of the post – awarded every two years – include Sir Quentin Blake, Michael Morpurgo, Dame Jacqueline Wilson, Michael Rosen and Julia Donaldson.
Child’s Clarice Bean series has sold over six million copies worldwide. The Bafta-winning TV adaptation of Charlie And Lola is aired in more than 34 countries.