Anne Wood’s Book Group Memories

We are delighted that Anne Wood, the founder of the Federation of Children’s Book Groups, has written about her earliest memories of the first Children’s Book Group for us. You will be able to read much more about the history of FCBG in a book due for publication in April.

I sit here contemplating the misty garden in mid-January 2018 and wonder how to begin.

I remember facing every editorial for the fledgling ‘Books For Your Children’ with the same feeling in 1965.

Now there are no small children narrowing the opportunities for any quiet reflection or writing time. 

“Mummy, I want something…”

“What do you want?”

“I don’t know; just something!”

Three days home with newborn Christopher, January 1969 Jean Russell erupts into our house.  In minutes she takes the interested addresses garnered from The Observer’s brief mention of the magazine and sets up a new Book Group in Cheshire.

Jean died young and I still miss her.  She was a doer not a talker.  She gave herself heart and soul.  She was never fearful, thought big and worked hard to follow through.

“Let’s hire the Royal Festival Hall” – and we did!

I remember those first meetings of the Children’s Book Group pioneers filling Joan Cass’s tiny London flat, top floor of a house in Waterloo Road.  We all had very busy lives but we came together because the belief that the work of bringing all children and books together was important.  It still is.

One of the famous and great children’s writers at that time caught the mood of the ’60s and ’70s.  Joan Aiken:

“People need stories…to remind them that reality is not only what we can see or smell or touch. Reality is in as many layers as the globe we live on itself, going inwards to a central core of red-hot mystery, and outwards to unguessable space.”

The path of stories always leads further and further to increasingly exciting futures.  Fifty years has flashed by and this moment in time is only the start.  Every day is a new beginning.

I am so glad to be part of it still and can only wonder at its success.  Here’s to sharing the future and continuing the journey.

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