by Julia Miller (Exec and Lincolnshire CBG)
Thriving imaginations, nurtured through a love of storytelling, are vital for children’s development. A flourishing imagination fosters resilience and empathy, it encourages children to soar beyond the every day and helps them to reach for possibilities. This was one of the key messages of Anne Wood’s speech on 6th June as the Federation of Children’s Book Groups celebrated 50 years of bringing children and books together.
Federation supporters (old and new) gathered for a wonderful event with Anne as she exhorted all present to keep children’s imaginations alive through the power of story. Over 50 years the Federation has done just this – through national initiatives such as National Share-A-Story Month, National Non-Fiction November, Story-Aid and the Armchair Traveller, through the only award voted for entirely by children, the Children’s Book Award and through working with children across the country in the Jean Russell Storytelling Project.
‘Three cheers for the tireless volunteers who run the Federation groups!’ someone said that evening. Almost every town in the country has had its own children’s book group at some point in its history and this focus on developing links with local schools, local communities and local libraries and bookshops remains the unique feature of the Federation.
Each group has been different, responding to the needs of its own members, driven by the passion and commitment of volunteers, many of whom are readers themselves, who want to share their own enthusiasm and their own imaginations with all children.
Children are at the heart of everything that the Federation has done and continues to do. Empowering children to create their own stories, develop their own imaginations and self-confidence through using their vote to choose their favourite books, writing their views of books in the Top Ten portfolios, be the ones who announce and present the Children’s Book Award, work with Anna Conomos, Jean Russell Storyteller, to develop their own versions of myths and legends – all these epitomise our approach and our mission, from those first days in 1968 to the present day.
So, our 50th year celebrations also include children… Our Three Laureates 50th event on 3rd November at the Birmingham Conservatoire is for children and their families to meet three of our great Children’s Laureates. Tickets are released on 15th June at https://www.bcu.ac.uk/conservatoire/events-calendar. Reserve your place (child included!) to see Julia Donaldson, Jacqueline Wilson and Chris Riddell celebrating the end of our 50th year with song, readings and illustration at another very special event.
As our golden party celebrated our work and the support of publishers, booksellers, authors and illustrators, everyone enjoyed a wonderful event, full of friends, raising a glass to the Federation and to the woman who said ‘Never tell a woman to get on and do something or she might just do it!’
And as Anne celebrated the past – ‘who knew it would last 50 years!’ – we also look to the future. The Federation was created in 1968 to bring books to children, families and schools who did not have access to libraries or dedicated bookshops and to encourage discussion about how to find that right book for each child. It is still not easy to find that book, the one that will spark creativity and imagination in a child, the one that will create a lifelong reader…As libraries close, as schools face financial pressures, as local bookshops disappear, the Federation with our grassroot focus and local groups still plays a vital role in promoting children’s reading and story sharing across the UK and will continue to do so for many years to come.
Be inspired to join a group or set up one of your own. Contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org and we will help you through the process.