You officially no longer have to feel guilty for how often you binge-read the How to Train Your Dragon series (or cry over the movies) — because their author Cressida Cowell won an award for fighting stupidity. That’s right, those books weren’t just adorable and hilarious; they’ve actually been making us cleverer this whole time. And there’s a trophy to prove it.
British magazine Philosophy Now has been running the ‘Contributions in the Fight Against Stupidity’ award since 2011, to honor those who are combating stupidity (which they believe is one of the world’s biggest problems) by “encouraging children to develop their natural tendency towards curiosity and critical thought.” Previous winners have included Noam Chomsky and Raymond Tallis, so this award being given to a children’s author is particularly exciting. Essentially, this is our official acknowledgement that literature is every bit as valuable as science when it comes to opening people’s minds. Of course, us book-lovers knew that all along.
Children’s books can play a massive part in a child’s upbringing, and so books that encourage children to think carefully about big issues (while taking them on a fantastic adventure along the way) mean that a new generation is growing up with a strong moral understanding of the world. Philosophy Now released a statement praising Cowell’s books in particular for “their profound meditation on complex political, historical, emotional and moral themes”. This was very deliberate from Cowell; she told The Guardian that she makes a “conscious effort never to write down to” children.
Cowell’s series, which is made up of 12 exciting and imaginative books, has sold over 7 million copies worldwide, and has been adapted into two sensational How to Train Your Dragon films. With its awkward hero, gentle dragon, and brave heroine, we’ve seen this series fight against bullying and against prejudice, so it’s great to see How to Train Your Dragon fight against stupidity as well.