The Children’s Book Circle (CBC) is stepping up its activity in a move to refresh and refocus the organisation, with changes being made to its Eleanor Farjeon Award and Patrick Hardy Lecture.
The not-for-profit organisation, which celebrates its 55th anniversary this year, was founded as an informal association of children’s book editors. It has now expanded to embrace anyone with a professional interest in children’s books, and has more than 300 members. It is run entirely by an 18-strong committee of volunteers who work for various children’s publishers and who each serve a maximum three-year term.
This year’s committee co-chairs Helen Chapman, a designer at Templar Publishing, and Holly Tonks, commissioning editor at Tate Children’s Books, said that the inspiration to make some changes to the running of CBC came from its former members.
Chapman explained: “There was a feeling from the alumni that the organisation had lost focus, so the committee decided that we should raise the profile of CBC again.”
CBC runs 12 events a year promoting, exploring and celebrating the importance of children’s publishing, ranging from Meet and Critique evenings with editors and agents, to panel debates on issues facing the children’s book industry. It also administers the Eleanor Farjeon Award, which recognises the outstanding contribution to the world of children’s books of an individual or organisation, and the Patrick Hardy Lecture, delivered annually by a speaker from the children’s books sector.
Children’s poet John Agard accepts the 2016 Eleanor Farjeon Award
This year, the award and the lecture will be presented and delivered at the same event for the first time. Tonks said: “We felt that the award and lecture had fallen under people’s radar. They’re both fantastic occasions with prestigious winners and speakers so we wanted to combine them into one event to increase awareness of them and encourage more people to attend.” The joint event will take place on 30th November at Foyles flagship bookshop on Tottenham Court Road, London.
Other upcoming events include a summer party for its members, to be held on 24th August at a venue in King’s Cross, and an alumni event to enable the organisation to reconnect with previous members.
CBC is also working with the Publishers Association’s Children’s Group, which comprises heads of marketing and PR from across children’s publishing. The group will help to select the shortlist for this year’s Eleanor Farjeon Award. Going forward, CBC wants to join forces with the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators to cater to aspiring authors who attend its events. It is also talking to the Association of Illustrators about a possible collaboration. Other new plans will see the organisation renovate its “dated” website and potentially introduce lifetime achievement awards for people
working in the children’s book industry and a separate one for librarians.
Looking to next year, CBC is considering running a day of development workshops for young people in the publishing industry. Chapman and Tonks hope that these changes will keep the organisation relevant to current members and draw support from alumni too, saying: “We want to put CBC back on the map”.