Celebrating 50 Years of Bringing Children and Books Together

It was very fitting that Queenswood School in Hertfordshire was bathed in sunshine throughout the weekend of the 13th – 15th April 2018 for the Federation of Children’s Book Groups’ Golden Anniversary Conference. The annual conference is always an opportunity to catch up with friends and colleagues – and this year was particularly special as 11 past Chairs were there to raise a glass (or two) to the next 50 years – and the warm and friendly atmosphere was enjoyed by everyone attending.

Such a momentous anniversary is a good time to reflect on the enduring success and influence of FCBG. A new book charting the history of the organisation was handed out on the Friday afternoon, some containing invitations to join founder Anne Wood for a celebratory event in London later this year. And of course there was a magnificent cake (one of many) adorned with the anniversary logo which incorporates the image of Fed Ted. The book reading bear was designed by illustrator Mick Inkpen for the Silver Jubilee Conference held in Birmingham in 1993. During the last few months our iconic mascot has been travelling the UK and beyond, meeting numerous authors and illustrators along the way, and there will be a special display of Fed Ted photos at next year’s conference.

The logo for this year’s (aptly named) conference was designed by illustrator Nick Sharratt as a 50th anniversary gift to FCBG. The weekend certainly lived up to being A Golden Treasury of hidden gems and bright futures. Speakers and guests included Steve Barlow, James Mayhew, Michael Morpurgo, Jackie Morris, Korky Paul, Tony De Saulles, Kaye Umanksy and Jacqueline Wilson. But we were also delighted by the likes of Sarah Crossan, M J Leonard, Patrice Lawrence, Meg McLaren, Lydia Monks, Zeb Soanes, Chitra Sounder, Robin Stevens, Lizzie Stewart, Katherine Woodfine and more.

The introduction of four young presenters (Paige, Jake, Mango Bubble Boy and Banana Girl) was a great way to acknowledge and celebrate young readers. There were also several daughters of regular delegates in the audience, representing another up-and-coming generation of children’s book enthusiasts.

Bringing children and books together is at the heart of what the Federation does and on several occasions the audience was reminded of the joy of being read to: by Michael Morpurgo’s touching but funny reading of his Owl and the Pussycat story; Jackie Morris’s lovely rendition of Mrs Noah’s Pockets accompanied by James Mayhew’s fabulous illustrations; and Kaye Umansky’s masterclass in reading aloud. What a fitting finale to a fantastic weekend!

Thank you to everyone involved in organising, hosting and presenting this very special anniversary celebration. We are now looking forward to next year’s conference which will be taking place at Woldingham School in Surrey, 12th – 14th April 2019. Hope to see you there!

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