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 and the next Executive meeting is 13th October, 80, The Strand, London. If you wish to attend, please let us know by emailing at least two weeks in advance.

Julia Miller (Barrowby and Grantham 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 (Barrowby and Grantham) my family have benefited enormously from being part of the Federation: meeting authors, participating in the Red House Children’s Book Award testing and learning how to use books for escapism, for enjoyment and to develop empathy and understanding of our world. As Chair for 2012-13, 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.”

Vice Chair / Red House Chilren’s Book Award Lead
Sarah Stuffins (Reading CBG)
“One of the joys of being involved with the Red House Children’s Book Award is that new books are constantly arriving – as if it wasn’t already difficult enough to choose favourites – and sometimes it all depends on mood! I have to say though, that the most powerful, moving book I’ve read in the last couple of years was our RHCBA winner A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness – which still had me in tears on the third reading.

Remembering favourites from my childhood is much safer. 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 20 and 17 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.”

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.”

Treasurer, Child Protection Officer
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.”

Group Liaison Officer
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.”

Melanie McGilloway (Yeo Valley CBG)

“I am not very good at deciding on my favourite book, as my choices change daily, according to how I am feeling, and what kind of book I want to (re)read.
However, for this occasion, I would say The Library by Sarah Stewart and David Small, because it celebrates the pleasure of reading, building one’s personal library and ultimately sharing this passion with others. This passion is also at the core of FCBG and this is why I have chosen this book.”

Rebecca Knight (Harrogate CBG)“Like many of the others, I’ve always struggled with choosing a favourite book. As a child I read widely, voraciously and – I have to admit – probably not very discerningly. I was 11 when the first Harry Potter book came out, and very much grew up with him. I was lucky enough to meet JK Rowling at the Children’s Book Award Ceremony when I was 14, though I sadly seem unable to find any photos of the event! Other books that gained a lot of creases on my adolescent bookshelf are Rhiannon Lassiter’s Hex trilogy and anything by Brian Jacques or Robin Jarvis. My favourite recent discovery is Frances Hardinge, for her sumptuous use of vocabulary and strong female characters.”

Website / National Non-Fiction Day
Zoe Toft (Dudley CDB)
“If I could give one book to everyone I met, I think it would have to be Shaun Tan’s The Arrival. A beautiful, moving, profound wordless book about belonging and home, full of compassion and wonder.Irene Haas’ The Maggie B remains a favourite from my childhood but a recent discovery that has blown me away are the novels of Mal Peet, especially The Keeper.”