Building Bridges, forging connections, growing readers


FED building bridges 2016 logo colour


In the run up to our annual conference at the beginning of April, we will be posting a series of blogs to whet your appetite.

In the first of the series, we would like to introduce this year’s conference Book Shop supplier, Anna Dreda of Wenlock Books.

Executive committee member Chris Routh, asked Anna to tell us about herself and what being involved in the conference means to her:

Tell us something about your shop

Wenlock Books is an award-winning independent bookshop located in the historic market town of Much Wenlock, just twenty minutes’ drive out of Telford into the Shropshire countryside.  It has a well-stocked children’s section and has been awarded two James Patterson grants to develop its work with children and young people.

Tell us something about yourself

I have been an independent bookseller for almost thirty years. I am especially passionate about sharing my love of books with children and the bookshop reflects this in its welcoming attitude to all children – the more exuberant, the better! I’m well-regarded in the contemporary British poetry scene, being the founder – with the support of the Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy – of the Wenlock Poetry Festival and a former judge of the Costa Poetry Prize. My work in the world of poetry was rewarded with an invitation to a special celebration of contemporary poetry at Buckingham Palace, where I was lucky enough to meet Her Majesty the Queen.

Tell us something about the events you run or support

We run events for both children and adults throughout the year, including a weekly StoryTime session for pre-schoolers, a children’s book group, a Poetry Summer School for children, and many events for adults including Poetry Breakfasts, Random Reading Groups, book launches and annual Readers’ Retreats in Scotland and Venice. We are also the home of the nationally-acclaimed Wenlock Poetry Festival which takes place in April each year.

What are you looking forward to about/at the FCBG conference?

I’m looking forward to meeting as many children’s authors as possible, and also to networking with librarians, teachers, book-buyers, readers – basically anyone with a love of books and reading, and especially for children.  I believe passionately that reading, and being read to, is one of the single most important things we can offer children to help them grow into secure, imaginative, and intelligent people.  Reading (I don’t have to tell you this!) underpins absolutely every area of life and is as important from a functional point of view, as it is from the emotional development aspect.

What does our overarching theme mean to you as a book-seller?

Oh – everything! I actually wrote my undergraduate dissertation on the importance of connections and on how literature can help build bridges from wildly different geographical, social, political and human backgrounds and help us reach a common humanity with people we otherwise might never have known or understood!. As for growing readers – it’s my life’s work!

What are you reading at the moment?

I’m always reading several books at once (that either sounds completely mad to you, or else you’ll immediately know exactly what I mean). Currently: At Swim, Two Boys by Jamie O’Neill, published in 2001, re-reading George Eliot’s Middlemarch and enjoying an advance reading copy of Ten Days by Gillian Slovo.

Is there a book you would like to recommend?

My Big Shouting Day by Rebecca Patterson (Random House) is a marvellous book for 2 – 6 year olds, full of vibrant and beautifully observed illustrations, and simple, appropriate text: it’s the story of a little girl having a bad day – and the ending is non-judgemental, non-moralistic and completely loving and accepting.  I love this book and am happy to read it again and again to grandchildren and StoryTimers alike.

Explain how school librarians and teachers will be able use the Book Shop

School librarians and teachers will be able to buy from stock, or place orders, and pay on invoice.  Deliveries can be arranged or you can take the books away with you.  I will offer a discount (amount to be confirmed) and be as flexible as I can to help you get the very best service for your school or library.

Is there anything else you would like to tell us?

Thank you so much for this opportunity, I’m delighted that the FCBG is coming to Shropshire and am confident it will be a splendid and successful conference!

For many of our delegates the Book Shop is one of the highlights of the annual conference. This year it will be located next to the Publishers’ display, near to the catering facilities on the ground floor of the venue.

For more details about the conference programme and to book your place see

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