National Executive

The National Executive Committee is made up of a number of willing volunteers, all of whom are members of the Federation and who wish to be involved at a national level, often in addition to active membership of a local group. The committee meets 4 times a year. If you wish to attend, please let us know by emailing at least two weeks in advance.

Jane Etheridge (Oxted CBG)

“Choosing a favourite children’s book is an impossible task. My choice of book depends on my mood, whether I want to laugh or to be swept away on an exciting adventure. I always read books at least twice: the first time would be spent racing through to the end to find out what happened and the second would enable me to appreciate the story properly. I have passed all of my books on to my children so they also love to read about Moomin and all his friends, Mary Plain’s escapades in the books by Gwynedd Rae and Laura Ingalls Wilder’s pioneering life on the Prairie.

I suppose my favourite books usually had a storyline involving the sort of adventure I wanted to have. They often included myths or fairy tales, such as ‘Henrietta’s House’ by Elizabeth Goudge or ‘The Weirdstone of Brisingamen’ and ‘The Owl Service’ by Alan Garner, which inspired me to read ‘The Mabinogion’.

As well as sharing my old books with my daughters I have discovered new authors. We all loved Kipper, Percy the Park Keeper and Little Bear. We didn’t just read the books; we had to act them out as well. I’ve built many rockets, time travel machines and a transmogrifier, which produced several clones of my younger daughter. One of our favourites for reading together is Jackie Morris’ beautiful Barefoot Book of Classic Poems.”

Vice Chair, Newsletter, Social Media
Chris Routh (Reading CBG)

Chris Routh I can’t really remember not being able to read and was a regular visitor to the local library from a very early age. Reading has been a life-long passion for me! Sharing stories with my own children was always a joy and I’ve been lucky enough to work with books and children throughout my career as a librarian. I currently work at an independent secondary school in Reading.
I love YA fiction – John Green’s books, Kevin Brooks’ Bunker Diary, Veronica Roth’s Divergent series are all recent favourites. Without our PTA Book Club, I probably wouldn’t get round to reading very much adult fiction at the moment – but the authors I particularly enjoy include Kate Atkinson, Tracy Chevalier and Alexander McCall Smith. I am also fascinated by book design and illustration and always enjoy shadowing the Greenaway Award with our school Book Clubs, and as a testing group, reviewing the younger titles for the Children’s Book Award.
Although I occasionally read on my Kindle or iPad, it is rather for convenience than preference. The physical aspect of books – embossed boards, jacket designs, endpapers, paper, print, pictures, shape and size – are an added source of pleasure. However, there are some great book-based Apps which take books and storytelling to a different dimension – and I find this incredibly exciting too!!

Secretary, Group Liaison Officer
Karen Hellewell (Aldbourne CBG)

“A home without books is like a house without windows.

After retiring from teaching English and organising school libraries I became a childen’s bookseller running The Well Wisher Bookshop in rural Wiltshire for ten years, which provided a golden opportunity to continue sharing my love of children’s literature with anyone who would listen.

Being Secretary of the Federation with its mixture of frustrations (mostly with technology) and joys (Conference, National Share-a-Story Month and other events) has let me share more stories with other readers, children and adults alike.

The first book to grab me was the Princess and Curdie by George Macdonald Fraser. I, too, wanted to climb the steps of the tower to see the old lady at the top sitting at her spinning wheel. Although my home looks like a farmhouse, it feels like a skyscraper with acres of shining glass.”,

Sarah Stuffins (Reading CBG)

“I have been involved with the FCBG for more than 10 years now, since meeting members of the Exec at the Hay Festival in 2004 which led to us setting up the Reading CBG. At the time I was very keen to find out about new authors for my kids to discover and I’ve stayed involved because I’m passionate about giving others the chances they had to read and share a love of reading with their families and friends.

I was lucky in having parents who loved books (a librarian and an English teacher!) so I had a good start myself. Thinking about my childhood favourites, first I have to pick Heidi – which I reread several times a year for several years. Also The Magic Faraway Tree – which had the extra element of danger as my mother absolutely refused to allow Enid Blyton books in the house, so I read it at school and had to keep remembering I didn’t know what it was about. Another real treat was my set of 1930s Arthur Mee encyclopedias – whenever I was ill but able to sit up in bed I’d pick a volume at random and browse through. I couldn’t possibly comment whether my recovery might have been delayed if I’d got to a really interesting bit…

My children are now 22 and 19 so days of regular story sharing with them are long gone (note use of regular – it still happens from time to time). Our favourites included noisy and rhyming books including Quentin Blake’s ABC and Ian Whybrow’s Quacky Quack Quack, and beautifully told stories such as Janice Elliott’s The Incompetent Dragon and Sarah Garland’s Polly’s Puffin.” 

Conference Programme
Rosanne Bartlett (Dudley CBG)

“A rural childhood in Mid Wales encouraged my love of reading and with the absence of electricity and television, books were my entertainment. My favourite childhood book was, ‘Wind in the Willows’ and I still have my original copy 50 years on. With my own girls I loved reading the ‘Katie Morag’ books by Mairi Hedderwick.
My involvement with the FCBG has allowed me to meet many inspirational authors; choosing my favourite book has proved very difficult. However, ‘Gathering Light’ by Jennifer Donnelly and ‘How I Live Now’ by Meg Rosoff are in my Top Ten of contemporary books.”

Children’s Book Award Co-ordinator
Julia Miller (Lincolnshire CBG)

“I have been passionate about encouraging children to read since my own children were born. As a founder member of my local Children’s Book Group (Lincolnshire) my family have benefited enormously from being part of the Federation: meeting authors, participating in the Children’s Book Award testing and learning how to use books for escapism, for enjoyment and to develop empathy and understanding of our world.
I am always moved by that moment of epiphany when a child suddenly becomes inspired to read.
Reading out loud and sharing stories is a major element of this inspiration and one of my favourite children’s books is The Mousehole Cat by Nicola Bayley – a wonderfully illustrated traditional Cornish fisherman’s tale. I would regularly share with my daughter the danger, the storm, the return to home, family and safety – all the elements of a great story –and she still has illustrations from the book on her mantelpiece 21 years later, along with a wall full of books inspired by early exposure to the magic of the page.”

National Share-a-Story Month Co-ordinator
Louise Stothard (Oxford CBG)

I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t reading. As a child Saturday mornings were a highlight of the week when we visited the Library where I was able to chose three books to read – the only sadness was that I had read them by Sunday afternoon!

My bookshelves are groaning with books and it is difficult to choose a favourite – but A Traveller in Time by Alison Uttley is special to me, as well as Margaret Mahy’s picture books and wonderful teenage fantasy novels. I love fantasy and The Dark is Rising sequence by Susan Cooper is on my classics shelf as well as books by Ursula Le Guin. They sit alongside all David Almond’s books, The New Policeman by Kate Thompson and Jennifer Donnelly’s A Gathering Light.

It has been a privilege to be a member of Oxford Children’s book group and I have loved seeing youngsters engaging with their favourite author or illustrator and had great fun sitting in on many a school author visit. It is amazing how a book will mean so much more to a youngster if you can say you have read it too or met the author or can just share your own love of reading.

At the moment I am telling everyone about Elizabeth’s Wein’s excellent novel Code Name Verity which is a compelling and haunting read and so well written, Ruta Sepetys’ books and I have enjoyed meeting Garvie Smith in Simon Mason’s thriller Running Girl. I am half way through Shadow of the Wolf by Tim Hall which is a clever re-telling of Robin Hood….

Diane Gaunt

My sisters and I received a book for every birthday and every Christmas. Because my parents had left school at 13 and had never been fiction readers, they chose Enid Blyton every time. I progressed from The Magic Faraway Tree to The Secret Seven series. I will be forever grateful that they somehow instinctively knew how important reading was. They gave me a love of stories which was eventually nourished by secondary English teachers.  I was an adult before I discovered children’s classics such as Winnie the Pooh and the Narnia stories.

As a young teacher I always read young teen fiction and the joy of my profession was to put the right book into the hands of a pupil who then was hooked on reading for pleasure! As a parent, I discovered a whole new world of children’s fiction.  My boys and I loved Dear Zoo and Wibbly Pig, wallowed in the illustrations and the fun of David Melling’s The Kiss That Missed, cried over Private Peaceful and raved about John Green’s work as they got older.

My older son is dyslexic and I didn’t think he would ever curl up with a good book independently, but we persisted with reading to and with him for a long time until the moment of relief and pride when ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ proved to be the book which held the key for him.  My younger son is a bookworm and will devour almost anything: what a gift to have books recommended to me by him now!  He eagerly awaits my return from conference when he has a huge pile of books to read before they are officially published and he can be one step ahead of his friends!”

Clare Zinkin

I can’t remember a time when books weren’t important to me. I remember my mother teaching me to read with flashcards, and still retain old battered copies of my favourite childhood books, from Chilly Billy by Peter Mayle to the Little Girl and the Tiny Doll by Aingelda and Edward Ardizzone. After university, I worked in the children’s department of Dorling Kindersley publishers, before going freelance as an editor. I now write books in my spare time and spend my working days advising schools, libraries and parents on reading for pleasure. From this sprang a clear affinity with the aims of FCBG.

My current joy is sharing books with my own children, as well as with children in the school library where I volunteer. Children’s contemporary authors whom I particularly admire include Jon Walter, Philip Pullman, Katherine Rundell and Rebecca Stead, although any picture book that makes me think or laugh is very welcome. I couldn’t single out one book – the joy of what I do is seeing that there are so many children’s books out there – something to suit everyone.

Christine Leggett (Ipswich CBG)