The Great Birmingham CBG Book Swap

Saturday 17th March 2018

As one of the oldest Children’s Book Groups – we will celebrate our 50th Anniversary in 2019- we wanted to celebrate the Federation’s Anniversary in some way. We decided to participate in a local event where we could have the opportunity to talk about the group and the Federation.

Over the last five years, Bournville Bookfest, organised by Busy Parent’s Network and Birmingham’s only dedicated children’s book festival, has grown to a ten-day event, taking place at different venues across  Birmingham for 0 – 12-year olds.  In more than 150 events local storytellers and internationally renowned authors explore storytelling through many artistic forms, from drama to animation, from illustration to mask-making and paper engineering pop up books.

Birmingham CBG showed its support by participating in this exciting event. It was a great way to introduce the Book Group to Birmingham families and get involved in the local community. The festival introduces a wealth of free and affordable events, so, BCBG decided to run a BOOK SWAP. Our first event was held in the festival marquee of Rowheath Pavilion Bournville.

To make sure there were enough books to start things off, books in good condition had been collected prior to the event. Any child who brought a book to swap on the day was given a ticket for each book donated, which they then handed in when they had found the book they wanted to take home. Having this ticket system meant that any child who had to go off to one of the timed events, could return later to choose a book.

Although the Book Swap had been advertised, there were many parents who said they hadn’t realised it was happening, but as they were attending events on the following Saturday, would encourage their children to take a book to swap. It was so encouraging to talk to the parents and children about their favourite books, as it showed just how important books are and how much children still love books.

The day’s events gave us the chance to be introduced to story tellers Anna O’Brien, Jess Mikhail and BB Taylor who brought along her real pets for a special interactive story time session. The author sessions included Steven Lenton, Trish Cooke, Bea Jay Evans and Tom Percival sharing their newest stories. Finally, we were all entertained by Nick Cope’s hilarious and entirely original songs for children.

Although the weather outside was snowy and extremely cold, it didn’t deter families coming out to enjoy the day and the atmosphere was so exciting.

Saturday 24th March 2018

Our second book swap event was held again at The Bluecoats School in Harborne. This was a full day of events in three venues across the school and was very busy! From ten o’clock parents and children poured into the site and the atmosphere was buzzing straight away.

Our stall was situated in the marquee, near the book shop and signing tables, where people were milling around most of the day. This time, more parents had anticipated the book swap and brought their books with them. We were pleased that the books were all of a good quality and, although there were more young children’s books, we had enough variety for everyone.

We had many opportunities to chat to parents about our group and the Federation, especially whilst they waited in long queues for signed books! Of course many parents were also teachers, so we had useful conversations about school membership too. Several parents were home-educators and we felt that this was a great way to meet some of them.

Golden Fed Ted was introduced to many authors and illustrators during the day and had his picture snapped with lots of them. We were particularly pleased to make links with some of our local writers and illustrators.

By teaming up with the Bookfest, we were able to reach many parents and children, gaining valuable publicity. We were very pleased to support the Book fest, which is an amazing event, by providing a new book-sharing opportunity through the book swap. This is such an easy event to run and is a great way of widening what children are reading without any money changing hands.

With thanks to Debbie Wiggett for the blogpost

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