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“Get all young Britons reading to unlock potential, productivity and economic growth”

“Get all young Britons reading to unlock potential, productivity and economic growth” 

Margaret Casely-Hayford banner


Says Dr Margaret Casely-Hayford, Diversity Review Chair of country’s oldest children’s book awards

An interim report as part of a Diversity Review into the country’s oldest children’s book awards has highlighted the critical importance of getting all young people reading to the UK’s economy as an investment in skills and social mobility.

Independent Review Chair, Chair of ActionAid UK and Chancellor of Coventry University Dr Margaret Casely-Hayford said, 

"I want all young people – regardless of who they are, their background or where they live – to have the same opportunities. The greatest barrier to a young person achieving their potential is a lack of literacy skills. Without these skills the majority of jobs are simply not a possibility, and as the world of work rapidly changes young people will simply lack the flexibility and adaptability needed to thrive.

Which is why I’m so pleased to Chair this independent Review. We have a powerful opportunity to engage the broadest range of children and young people possible with outstanding writing and illustration that will fire their imagination and develop essential literacy skills.”

Published by CILIP, the library and information association, the interim report gives a progress report on the independent Diversity Review of the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Awards. The Review was launched in June 2017 to examine how equality, diversity, inclusion and participation can best be championed and embedded into the work of the awards.

A consultation will be carried out in partnership with Coventry University. It will be to open anyone interested in contributing to the Review, and will start in January 2018. The consultation will be followed by focus groups in June, with a final report to be published in September 2018.

As part of the Review, CILIP held workshops in July and October attended by stakeholders from across the children’s books community. The workshops provided a way to hear a broad range of views from across the book supply chain and children’s literature sector, helping to inform the work of the Review.

Seven clear themes were identified through the workshops which will be explored through the consultation:

1.   Children’s participation

Workshop discussions centred around how the awards involve and include all children, considering the different needs and capabilities of children, their backgrounds and how to target harder to reach schools.

2.   Judging

The diversity of the judging panel and librarian workforce as a whole was discussed. CILIP’s 2015 UK information workforce survey found the workforce has lower ethnic diversity than the national UK Labour Force Survey statistic, with 96.7% of workers identifying as ‘white’, almost 10% above the national workforce average. The workshops discussed widening the pool of recruitment for librarians; enhanced diversity training to empower judges to appreciate diverse voices, and better recognition of the code of ethics that librarians as CILIP members are bound by. 

3.   Nominations and nominators

Conversations around nominations grappled with how to achieve as broad and representative a pool of nominations as possible without overloading them. There was a shared desire for the list of nominations that begin the awards cycle to be as diverse and representative as possible.

4.   Criteria

Participants were keen to retain the quality and excellence for which the awards scheme has become renowned, but saw a need for in-depth scrutiny of the judging criteria to allow for greater inclusivity, a breadth of perspective and recognition of diverse voices.

5.   Publicity and promotion

The workshops identified opportunities for profile-raising and greater consumer awareness of the awards. Participants also flagged the need for a more diverse range of books to be available and accessible to librarians, considering the involvement of retailers, suppliers and building relationships with small and independent publishers.

6.   Data

The need for better data collection was identified. Currently no data is collected on the characteristics of the people nominating books for the awards or the judges. There is also a lack of data available on the authors and illustrators who have been nominated or on the content of the books. It was felt that good data would help CILIP to understand invisible as well as visible diversity and identify problem areas and opportunities in the process for improvement.

7.   Changing the culture

The workshops involved participants across the children’s book sector and everybody expressed their commitment to improving and promoting diversity. A change in the culture is required with no more ‘buck passing’ along the chain of commissioning, publishing and availability and awareness of books. To make this a reality participants want to see partnerships develop between publishers, librarians and literacy organisations, working together to grow the profile of children’s literature, change perceptions of diversity issues and drive positive change in society.

Nick Poole, CILIP Chief Executive said,

As a sector, we have learnt that we need to be proactive in identifying and tearing down the barriers which prevent some people from discovering the joy of reading, of cultural participation and of seeing themselves reflected in literature.

“We know that children’s literature and illustration have a unique power to shine a light on the world as it is and to help us to imagine a better one – and that because of this we have an immense responsibility in how we develop and promote these awards as librarians with promoting equal opportunities and human rights at the heart of our professional ethics.”

The interim report outlines work done to date to scope and inform the Review and identifies what the next steps will be.

Margaret Casely-Hayford said,

I would like to thank everyone who has participated in the Review so far for the enthusiasm and collaborative spirit that has characterised our meetings and discussions.

The report makes interesting reading and hopefully sparks further ideas that will be shared through our consultation next year. It is so important that as many people as possible have their say.”

Pre-register your interest to receive an email when the online consultation begins.

Read the interim report.

Notes for editors

High res photography of Margaret available on request

Press contact

Cat Cooper
Communications and Campaigns Manager, CILIP
Tel: 020 7255 0653 M: 07867 455070

1. About Dr Margaret Casely-Hayford

Margaret is a retired lawyer, was on the board of NHS England and is now on the board of the Co-op Group and is the chair of ActionAid UK. From 2000-2008 she was a government appointed trustee of Great Ormond St Children's Hospital Charity, and the Geffrye Museum; and was recently appointed Chancellor of Coventry University.

For nine years until July 2014 she was Director of Legal Services for the John Lewis Partnership. She worked for twenty years previously with City law firm Dentons where she was a partner. After 30 years as a lawyer, she retired from executive roles. In 2014 Margaret was named by the Black British Business Awards as Business Person of the Year.

This year Margaret was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Business Faculty of Middlesex University.

Margaret was appointed Chair of international development Charity ActionAid UK in 2014. She was elected to the Board of the Co-op in May 2016; and in June 2016 was appointed a Trustee on the Board of the Radcliffe Foundation that funds arts and music projects.

She now advises young entrepreneurs, organisations on governance and those embarking upon board careers. Promoting board diversity, she’s a Board Apprentice ambassador, a patron of the Sir John Staples Society that works across the Leatherworkers’ Federation of Schools to foster an interest in the arts, music, commerce, politics, religion and science in the students; and she’s Chair of the Advisory Board of Ultra Education, which teaches entrepreneurial skills to primary school children.

2. About the Review

CILIP announced the independently chaired review of the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Awards as part of its wider Equality and Diversity Plan on 8 March 2017. Margaret Casely-Hayford was announced as chair on 26 June.

3. About CILIP

CILIP, the library and information association is the leading voice for the information, knowledge management and library profession. CILIP’s goal is to put information and library skills and professional values at the heart of a democratic, equal and prosperous society. CILIP is a registered charity, no. 313014. The Youth Libraries Group (YLG) of CILIP works in a ‘pressure group’ role to preserve and influence the provision of quality literature and library services for children and young people, both in public libraries and school library services. Visit

More about CILIP’s research about the library and information workforce with ARA

3. About the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Awards

The CILIP Carnegie Medal is awarded annually to the writer of an outstanding book for children and young people. The CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal is awarded annually for an outstanding book in terms of illustration for children and young people. The Amnesty CILIP Honours are a unique commendation that recognises writing and illustration for children and young people that illuminate, uphold and celebrate our freedoms and human rights.

Each year CILIP members are invited to nominate books for the Carnegie and the Kate Greenaway Medals using the published criteria as their guide. In 2017, 114 books of outstanding writing were nominated for the Carnegie and 93 books of distinguished illustration for nominated for the Kate Greenaway Medal. The panel of 12 judges are democratically elected from across the UK through CILIP’s Youth Libraries Group (YLG) of children’s and youth librarians in schools and public libraries. The panel uses the criteria to judge the nominated books and decide a longlist of 20 titles for each medal, a shortlist of six to eight titles and the Medal winners.

Amnesty International’s judging panel examines the shortlists for the CILIP Carnegie Medal for outstanding writing and CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal for distinguished illustration and selects one title from each shortlist that best celebrates the values of freedom, justice and fairness; and contributes to a better understanding of our human rights.

2017 marks the 80th anniversary of the CILIP Carnegie Medal and the 60th anniversary of the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal.

The 2017 winners were:

  • CILIP Carnegie Medal: Salt to the Sea, by Ruta Sepetys (Puffin)
  • CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal: There is a Tribe of Kids, illustrated and written by Lane Smith (Two Hoots)
  • Amnesty CILIP Honour from the CILIP Carnegie Medal shortlist: The Bone Sparrow, by Zana Fraillon (Orion Children's Books)
  • Amnesty CILIP Honour from the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal shortlist: The Journey, illustrated and written by Francesca Sanna (Flying Eye Books)

121 books have been nominated for the 2018 CILIP Carnegie Medal and 116 for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal. The 2018 longlists will be announced on 15 February, the shortlists on 15 March and the Medals and Amnesty CILIP Honour winners on 18 June. View the 2018 nominations.

Press release  
Published:  7 December 2017
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