Report: AGM and An Evening with Chris Riddell

The YLG Northwest AGM took place on Monday 16th November and this year, thanks to Booktrust, we were very fortunate to be able to combine the occasion with an event with the brilliant Chris Riddell, who was in the region as part of his Children’s Laureate Tour.

Coming with the subtitle “Librarians I Have Loved,” much of Chris’s talk provided a fascinating insight into the books that made him a reader and the librarians that guided him along the way, including the rather fearsome-looking “gatekeeper,” and (my favourite) the librarian knight, “fighting to the death to defend their library.”

Chris also talked about the magic of story time at the end of the school day and recalled memories of The Hobbit being read to his class by one particular teacher – something that evoked fond recollections of my own primary school experience (I well remember settling down at the end of each day in Year 5 to listen to Mrs Newsham read the next chapter of Bilbo’s adventure, waiting desperately to find out what would happen next).

Such experiences are crucial in forming a love of books and it’s heartening to see how tirelessly Chris advocates for all children to experience this and to have the right to a school library with a trained librarian. Chris has called upon Education Minister Justine Greening to provide a full picture of school library closures and reaffirmed his intention to continue campaigning post-laureateship at Monday’s event.

Chris Riddell is not only a fantastic author and illustrator but also an extremely engaging speaker with an endless supply of amusing anecdotes – about misbehaving in church as a youngster, reading instead of shelving in his Library Assistant days (something none of us at YLG NW have ever done of course 😉) and  the way he just can’t help drawing in the margins of books.

To listen to Chris speak and see some of his fantastic illustrations was a real treat – thank you so much Chris and Booktrust for a wonderful evening!


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