Get to know us

The Children's Bookshow is a charity that inspires children with a love of reading. We introduce children to world-class authors and illustrators through our programme of theatre events and in-school workshops. The artists selected are chosen from a wide variety of countries and cultures to give young people access to the very best stories, poems and illustrations from all over the world. We help teachers to provide their students with a rich and exciting experience of literature.

  • More than 140,000 children and their teachers have been to a performance put on by the Children’s Bookshow
  • We have given away approximately 50,000 free books to children and their schools
  • We have given 30,000 children a free workshop in school

Through its annual theatre tour The Children's Bookshow brings to thousands of young people across the country some of the world's best children's books. It gives them the opportunity of excitement and discovery which may even inspire in them a love of words and images that will last a lifetime.

Sir Quentin Blake

From our first tour that promoted the authors and books featured in Simply The Best Books for Children published in 2003 by The Centre for Literacy in Primary Education, we have always focused on bringing the very best literature from around the world to children and their teachers. From small beginnings in bookshops, libraries and literature festivals we have grown and now programme 15 events in venues ranging from large scale, iconic theatres such as The Old Vic in London, to smaller scale theatres such as the New Wolsey in Ipswich.

In 2011 we became one of the Arts Council’s National Portfolio Organisations and we were delighted to be successful in our most recent bid to keep this status until 2026.

You only have to witness the impact of author events on children to see how their lives as readers (and therefore their lives) can be changed by them.

Nicolette Jones, The Sunday Times

Who we are

A photo of the team

The Children’s Bookshow is managed by a small and friendly team of freelancers. Each member of the team brings different skills and experience to the project but we share a love of great books and we delight in creating inspiring, fun and thought-provoking events for children. The picture above was taken at the Old Vic, with one of our favourite authors and illustrators, Neal Layton.

The team

Photo of Siân Williams

Siân Williams

Siân read Russian and French at university, then after a brief spell in the education department of Foyles, founded, with others, Writers and Readers Publishing Cooperative. She subsequently worked independently and promoted literature and literature in translation in venues such as the Royal Festival Hall and literary festivals across the UK. Together with Kate Arafa, she then went on to found The Children’s Bookshow to bring the best of children’s literature from the UK and abroad to school children and their teachers. She also works as a translator and has translated work both for adults and children from Italian.

Photo of Kate Arafa

Kate Arafa

Kate has been part of The Children’s Bookshow from the very beginning and continues to be inspired by all the artists and the children who take part. In the past she has created and managed national tours for small independent publishers promoting fiction in translation and has also produced her own literature tours celebrating the short story. She has always been interested in the ways in which literature can be presented live on stage. She lives in Devon and has three daughters.

Photo of Liz Neville

Liz Neville

Liz has always loved reading and books, and started her work life in magazine publishing production. After a career break to raise twin boys, she has worked as an events and project co-ordinator for various arts organisations, including Booktrust. She now feels immensely lucky to be able to split her time between her role as personal assistant to the illustrator, Axel Scheffler, and her work for The Children's Bookshow.

Photo of Jo Baum

Jo Baum

Jo studied Literature at university where she thoroughly enjoyed working her way through the reading list. Following an unconventional career path via a decade spent in a recording studio and many years in a polo club, she has now embraced her love of spreadsheets and spends her time working for The Children’s Bookshow and teaching children how to ride their bikes, but not at the same time.

Photo of Jo Daley

Jo Daley

Jo has been a primary school teacher and literacy leader in South Yorkshire schools for over twenty years. Encouraging a love of books has always been her passion, both as a teacher and as a mum to two boys. Throughout her career she has worked to engage and inspire children to become avid and confident readers and writers. She feels privileged to be working with The Children’s Bookshow in helping to share the awesomeness of books with thousands of children all over the country.

Photo of Katy Webster

Katy Webster

Katy comes from an educational publishing background and has worked with many primary schools to bring them outstanding literature and resources. She has also spent many years working in the hospitality industry which gave her a love for travel and different cultures. Katy has two children at primary and secondary school, so understands first-hand how creating a spark for reading is key to a child's successful development.

Photo of Natalie McKie

Natalie McKie

Natalie has a passion for working with families, children and young people. Having started her career as a teacher, she has subsequently worked for various charities in learning and development roles, primarily focusing on creating resources and experiences to inspire learning outside the classroom. She currently splits her time between work and raising two small, energetic boys who love books!

The board

The Children’s Bookshow is governed by a highly skilled and experienced Board that provides a wide variety of financial, educational, publishing, translation and teaching skills.

Photo of David Potter

David Potter

David Potter was formerly non-executive chairman of publisher Quercus. He has worked in the finance sector as an executive for 35 years holding senior executive positions including Investec Bank UK, where he was Deputy Chairman, Guinness Mahon as Group CEO and he has also held senior positions at CSFB, Samuel Montagu and Midland Bank (now HSBC). David is a Trustee of The UK Friends of The Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, and WorldWide Volunteering, he is Chairman of The National Film and TV School Foundation and a member of the Councils of Godolphin & Latymer School and The Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation (CSFI).

Photo of Shoshannah Thompson

Shoshannah Thompson

For the past ten years Shoshannah Thompson has worked in the heart of Tower Hamlets; as teacher, English Lead and Deputy Head Teacher of Cyril Jackson Primary School. In all of these roles she has been very passionate about children's reading and their access to reading real books. Recently, she was seconded on a full-time basis to the Tower Hamlets School Improvement Team where she now works closely with the team in supporting and developing English across primary schools within the borough. She is currently headteacher at Halley Primary School in East London.

Photo of Robina Pelham Burn

Robina Pelham Burn

After a degree in Chinese, Robina worked at the British Council and in publishing, then for 16 years ran the Stephen Spender Trust, whose activities included multilingual workshops in primary and secondary schools. She now works as a freelance editor, specialising in translated fiction and non-fiction. Books are at the centre of Robina’s life, and she has long admired the work of the Children’s Bookshow.

Photo of Claire Boulton

Claire Boulton

Claire Boulton led a team and oversaw the delivery of a literacy programme in around 60 mainstream and special schools throughout the Covid-19 pandemic as Education and Development Director at Pop Up Projects CIC. This followed ten years as Relationship Manager at Arts Council England, where she managed a portfolio of funded children’s literature organisations and led a research commission entitled Time for Change on BAME representation in children’s literature by Sheffield Hallam University. Prior to this, as Programme Manager at BookTrust, Claire set up and ran a UK-wide Early Years free books programme and shared reading campaign, sponsored by education company Pearson and funded by the DfE, which reached five million children and families in under five years. Previously a Bookseller, Fundraiser and English Language Teacher overseas, she has a BA (Hons) in English Literature and Art & Design with Music, an MA (distinction) in Women and Literature, and a PGCE in Secondary English & Drama.

Photo of Errol Lloyd

Errol Lloyd

Errol Lloyd trained as a lawyer but has subsequently worked as a painter and sculptor and an author and illustrator of children's books. His paintings have been exhibited widely, and recently at the Milton Keynes Art Gallery alongside the work of notable British artists such as Gainsborough, Turner, Henry Moore, Lowry and others. His portrait of poet, Kamau Brathwaite, now hangs in the Hall of Pembroke College, Cambridge. His children's books have been published in a number of foreign editions and have been nominated for the Kate Greenway Medal for illustration and the Carnegie (YLG) for his teenage novel, Many Rivers to Cross. His critical writings on art and have been included in the recent Tate Gallery anthology Liberation Begins in the Imagination.

Photo of Sinéad Naidoo

Sinéad Naidoo

Sinéad joined the board to use her experience in Education to contribute to the wonderful work the Children's Bookshow does in inspiring children to read. Sinéad has a background in Law, Children’s Rights and Education policy and development, and has previously been a primary school teacher in Cambridge. She currently lives in Oxford and works for the National Literacy Trust, where she leads programmes that inspire thousands of primary school children across the country to read for enjoyment. Sinéad is passionate about increasing equity in education and ensuring that all children have access to books because of the power that reading has, to unlock learning, support their wellbeing and enhance their life chances.

Our patrons

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Valerie Bloom

Valerie Bloom MBE is a Jamaican-born prize-winning poet and novelist who has published several poetry collections, picture books and novels and edited several poetry anthologies. She made a series, entitled Island Voices of three programmes for BBC Radio 4 which focused on Jamaican poetry. Valerie is also a renowned performance poet and performs her poetry nationally and internationally, everywhere from local libraries to the Royal Albert Hall.

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Lee Hall

Lee Hall is a playwright, television writer, screenwriter and lyricist. He is best known for writing Billy Elliot and the lyrics for its stage musical. He also wrote the play The Pitman Painters, the powerful story of a group of miners in Newcastle who had a passion for painting and became celebrated artists in their own right. He was the original writer on the screenplay for the film of Michael Morpurgo’s children’s novel War Horse.

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Rachel Yankey

Rachel Yankey OBE is a former English footballer who played for the England national team. She played for Arsenal for 13 years and has appeared on BBC Sport’s Academy Master classes to teach young footballers basic soccer skills. She also hosted a CBeebies programme entitled Footy Pups. In June 2013, she broke Peter Shilton’s all time national record of 125 caps. When not playing or practising, Rachel works as a coach in schools.

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Michael Rosen

Michael Rosen is a poet, novelist, biographer and broadcaster, and was Children’s Laureate from 2007 to 2009. His best-known children’s books are We’re Going on a Bear Hunt and Michael Rosen’s Sad Book illustrated by Quentin Blake. He’s also written many books for adults including a memoir So They Call You Pisher? and The Disappearance of Emile Zola: Love, Literature and The Dreyfus Case. He is Professor of Children’s Literature at Goldsmith’s University London.

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Owen Sheers

Owen Sheers is a novelist, poet and playwright. He has written 14 books including poetry, non-fiction, fiction and drama and edited the anthology A Poet’s Guide to Britain which was also a BBC television series. His BAFTA and Grierson nominated film-poem about the Aberfan disaster, The Green Hollow, won three BAFTA Cymru awards. In 2018, to mark the 70th anniversary of the NHS, he created the BBC film-poem To Provide All People. In 2007 he collaborated with the composer Rachel Portman to create The Water Diviner’s Tale, an oratorio for children about climate change, premiered at the BBC Proms. More recently, his TV adaptations for children include Mimi and the Mountain Dragon and The Snow Spider. He is currently Professor in Creativity at Swansea University.

…The Children’s Bookshow… has become an established and much anticipated cycle of events in the children’s literature calendar…

Ann Lazim, Librarian at the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education

Thanks to…

We would like to thank all our funders, supporters and the organisations with which we have collaborated.

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