Ever wondered more about our local children’s book groups? Keen to set up one in your local community to promote a love of reading?
Check out today’s blog written by committee member, Sara Sumner about her experiences!
I was a complete novice to the Children’s Book world when I happened upon the FCBG when discussing with a friend how we might go about running a children’s writing competition. Well… what a rabbit hole I went down and I really did feel a little like Alice stepping into Wonderland!
After a bit of a gander around the FCBG website, I realised that there were lots of local groups running around the country, but there didn’t appear to be one near enough to where we were to join. In search of a bit more information, I contacted the FCBG and spoke to a lovely lady about how we could actually set up our own group.
The FCBG National conference was fast approaching so it was suggested that I could attend and speak to some of the committee and other group members to see how it all works. I think I was wooed by books, cake and possibly the thought of having a completely child free weekend away! I come from a non- book background, I am a parent and a booklover (not a teacher, librarian, bookseller or book expert), so it was a little daunting to mingle amongst such greats! I need not have feared though as I soon found out that even the greats were there for the books, the authors, the illustrators and the cake! What an incredibly welcoming group of people. I had such an amazing time and was bowled over by the publisher’s exhibition, with so much help and advice (and I came home with armfuls of beautiful books and goodies – WONDERFUL!) From this point I was hooked. I was going to rally some troops and set up a book group. That is just what we did!
We set up a committee (there may have been a little arm twisting) with a Chair (me), Secretary, Membership Secretary and Treasurer. We held an open committee meeting advertising for people to attend if they wished to come. I had met our nearest group at the conference and they were incredibly helpful to us setting up. They invited us to their summer meeting (which was fabulous – with Janina Ramirez speaking – my then 6 year old was awestruck). They also helped us to form our own constitution and guided us in how to put membership forms together and how to encourage members. Peer support from another group really helped us when setting up as I knew where to turn for help and advice at a local level. I can remember being surprised at how different each group is set up and runs, some new , some experienced – each unique in their make-up. As a committee, we decided that we were going to run a launch event. We were given a small bursary from FCBG to help us make a start and we used this to help us secure 3 brilliant acts for the day. We had an incredible performance from picture book author and illustrator, Kristina Stephenson – who basically put on an entire theatre production for us. Martin Brown, author and illustrator, most notably for his Horrible Histories illustrations drew in lots of children and we finished the day with debuting author Charlotte Lo, who rounded off the day brilliantly for us. We had lots of cake and lots of fun. It was hard work, but the most rewarding experience.
So, if you do not have a local group near you to join – don’t be afraid to consider setting up your own. It is a little daunting but there is help, advice and support out there. There is no right way to run a group, you can set out your own goals as a committee on what you want to achieve, whether it is running author events for children to access, running sessions with your local bookshops, story telling sessions for children that perhaps find access to reading harder or just creating a lovely group to enjoy Children’s Books. Have a look around the FCBG website, speak to our Membership Secretary or even book a place at our national conference!