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Meet the Judges

The Yoto Carnegie Judges 2025

If you would like to arrange a virtual visit from the judge in your area, please get in touch with us at carnegies.coordinator@CILIP.org.uk and we will do our best to help facilitate this once the Shadowing period begins in March.

Keri Yearwood

West Midlands 2025 Judge

I have been working for Birmingham Libraries for 20 years. I have worked as a Senior Library Assistant for the Children’s department at the Library of Birmingham for 8 of these years. I primarily manage the events programme for children and young people. I love art in all its forms, drama, music, poetry, illustration, dance, storytelling. I always want to bring what is largely inaccessible to a free public library for everyone to experience.

It is such a pleasure and a privilege to select books. I have respect for all art forms and children’s literature is among the most immersive, fun, and engaging. The process of getting from a concept/idea to the finished product, is most intriguing to me.

I enjoy curating a children’s library. Obtaining books throughout the decades with changing and evolving illustration styles. I ask the children what they think, like and don’t like. A passion for reading and learning starts with a Board Book or Picture Book – understanding art in all forms is key to providing excellent literature for a children’s library.

The best part of my job is customer service. Getting to know our customers and what stories they enjoy. Finding a book for someone and then hearing about how much they loved it, is truly the best feeling.

Kelly Blake

South West 2025 Judge

As soon as I was old enough to visit the library alone, I would go every day in the school holidays to choose a fresh batch of books – to me, reading was everything.  I was lucky enough to have work experience in the same library and it was a dream come true when I was later employed by Swindon Libraries after completing my library diploma at Aberystwyth University.  Despite the early indications that I was headed for the library profession though, I initially began a career in insurance.  After a few years I realised it wasn’t for me and left for my first spell at university instead.

I eventually came back to libraries and before I returned to Swindon, worked in an academic library and in the Guardian’s Library and Research Department.  Both of these gave me an insight into what kind of different libraries existed and cemented my intention to work in public libraries. 

I’ve worked in a variety of roles in the last 12 years in Swindon and am now a stock librarian.  I re-discovered my love of children’s books when my eldest child was born and have had responsibility for the children’s buying since 2021, which brings me so much joy.  I’ve also worked as a Library and Information Assistant since 2017 and continue to do so part-time meaning that I still get to recommend books to children, which I love to do.  It’s thrilling to be selected as a judge for the Carnegies and I can’t wait to getting started.

Amanda Adams

Eastern 2025 Judge

As a child, I was lucky to have both a mum who read to me at every opportunity, and a thriving local library, with Librarians who created space for both reading and a practical hub at the heart of our community. These ‘gifts’ would become central to my own emerging reading identity. At the age of thirteen, back in the days of ‘card indexes’, when few ‘young adult’ books were published, and those reflective of my diverse Manchester community were even more scarce, I became a regular volunteer, and wore my ‘Librarian’ pin badge with pride!

I began my working life as a qualified Social Worker with young adults, and despite the difference in roles, there were times where the ‘school librarian purpose’ of ‘getting the right book, into the right child’s hand, at the right time’, was a positive support I could offer.

In returning to children’s literature with my own young family, I rediscovered the joys of ‘connection’ found in shared reading experiences, and in 2016 changed career paths to become a High School Librarian. I’m passionate about engaging young people in reading for pleasure, continually working to broaden my knowledge, and ensure inclusive representation in the materials I curate and promote with students. Organising our annual KS3 Carnegie Shadowing Groups was a powerful and dynamic part of this process, through which I observed how access to ‘outstanding’ literature, within a shared reading environment, strengthened both young people’s social connections and empathy development.

In 2021, I moved to New Hall School in Chelmsford as Preparatory Librarian, and now work to support younger children as they start their reading journeys. It is a huge honour to be appointed as the Eastern Region Judge for the 2024-25 Medals cycle.

Ros Harding

Chair of Judges 2025

I have loved reading from an early age, devouring all the books that I could get my hands on from home, school and my local library in South Wales. After qualifying as a librarian in 2002, I worked for a charity library in London.  I started working as a school librarian when I loved to Wrexham in North Wales because it was the only library job available. However, I quickly realised that I found the perfect sector to work in and loved working with children and young people over the next 18 years (and three different schools) to develop a love of reading. In my present role, I support schools in setting up and managing their digital libraries, and so I still get the joy of talking about and promoting books.

While at The King’s School in Chester, I won the SLA’s School Librarian of the Year award, which was one of the proudest moments of my professional life The ‘dream come true’ and highlight of my career though was being a judge for the CKG awards in 2021/22, representing the North West region. It was a difficult time to become a judge, (the 2021 panel didn’t get to meet in person until the 2022 award ceremony), but it was still an incredible experience. I feel very lucky indeed to be Chair of Judges for 2025 and to support this year’s wonderful judges through the process.

Kevin Sheehan

North West 2025 Judge

My best friends during my formative years were the Wakefield twins from the Sweet Valley High books.  I was introverted (and still am), gay and working class, living in a large council estate on the outskirts of Romford.  I felt that I never fitted into the sometimes ‘toxic masculinity’ during this time.  It was these soap-operatic stories that created the ideal escapism during my formative years; always enjoyed in the lavish 1970s splendour of my local public library!

I am a veteran school librarian with over twenty-five years’ experience within libraries.  I was nurtured by a large catalogue of librarians, who, through their knowledge, wisdom and love, transformed a YTS trainee, who was a little rough around the edges, into the professional I am today.  These heroes motivated me to move away and begin a degree in librarianship.  Years later my roots are firmly embedded within north west England, and still doing a job that I love passionately.

I am always striving to be the best version of myself, gaining further qualifications including an MA in Information Literacy (at Sheffield University), plus won (and proudly winning) the coveted School Library Association ‘Librarian of the Year’ award.  My achievements are important to me, but not as much as the thousands of kids I have welcomed into the school library over the years.  A crucial part of my role is seeking and stocking books that present different versions and possibilities of what it looks and feels like to be a young adult, from the past, current present and future, in the stories that they read.  I look forward to choosing the next set of titles that could have the potential to change lives.

Kathy Holman

Yorkshire & Humber 2025 Judge

My lifelong love of reading began at my local Carnegie library in the 1970s. In fact, I was lucky enough to live within walking distance of three public libraries, and when my mum got a job cleaning one of them, I couldn’t have been happier – I was always keen to go and ‘help’ her! At school, I loved being a pupil librarian, spending my breaks and lunchtimes in the school library. Having access to such a wide range of books through local and school libraries also fed my love of learning and I became the first person in my family to go to university.

For much of my working life, I was an associate lecturer with The Open University, teaching courses that included history, literature, and classical studies. I believe that reading is key to making learning accessible to people from all backgrounds, but that it also offers so much more – joy, adventure, escape, empathy. I loved being a reading volunteer at my children’s primary school, and, more recently, have set up a local book club and started volunteering with the children’s reading charity, Ready Steady Read. I also became a school librarian in 2022: having the opportunity to promote reading for pleasure, to discuss books with children and staff, and to curate a diverse and inclusive selection of books is really my dream job. Books have opened up so many worlds for me, and I am so excited and honoured to be representing Yorkshire and the Humber as a Carnegie judge!

Emma Kerslake

West Midlands 2025 Judge

Despite a lifelong passion for stories, my path has taken some turns along the way. I have held an array of roles, from stable assistant in Denmark to chef in Australia. Only after landing a ‘temporary’ job as a teaching assistant did my passion for working with young people surface, and I have now been in schools for almost twenty years.

I’ve been an English teacher all over the nation, from a wonderful school in a disadvantaged area of Wales, to a high-achieving girls’ school in Surrey, and then to the secure estate, working with young offenders in the Midlands. Alongside teaching, I rejuvenated the prison library, igniting a desire to ensure that the young people I worked with could not only see themselves as readers, but find themselves in the pages of a book.

A librarian position was the ideal role after having my son. It was meant to be another temporary move whilst he was small, but I’m several years in, on my second librarian post, and have absolutely discovered my true calling! I’m currently at Bishop Ullathorne in Coventry and have again had the opportunity to create a thriving school library full of relatable and inspiring books and an exciting programme of events including library lessons, author visits and a big World Book Day ‘Character Hunt’.

Running a Book Club has been one of my favourite parts of being a librarian, and we love a good shortlist. Having shortlisted for local book awards and shadowed the Carnegies for years, I am delighted to have been appointed as the West Midlands judge for 2025/26. I hope I can help select books that will engage and inspire people as much as we have been inspired.

Sophia Bower

North East 2025 Judge

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love stories – I’m told my mum started reading to me before I was even born. I love that there is a story for everyone and that they can be told in so many different ways; they are fundamental to our understanding of the world and our place in it.

I moved to the North East to study English Literature at Newcastle University in 2011, and loved it so much, I have yet to leave. I studied not only literary classics and their historical contexts, but also documentary, theatre, and, of course, children’s literature. The Children’s Literature Unit was so wonderful, I stayed on to complete a research masters in the field. During this, I also received the Robinson Bequest Scholarship, which gave me the amazing opportunity to work in a library for the first time.

My work with young people has taken a variety of forms for over 14 years (my entire adult life!). I’ve been Santa’s Elf, volunteered at schools and nurseries, run workshops and clubs of all kinds, and planned and supported events with several charities, BBC Learning, and Seven Stories. 

When I started my current position as a secondary school librarian in Durham back in 2018, I was over the moon. Being able to combine my love of reading and supporting young people has truly been a dream, and I honestly can’t imagine myself doing anything else.

My school librarian first introduced me to the Carnegies when I was 11 years old. To be able to contribute to this legacy as an adult is a huge honour, and I am incredibly excited!

 

Michelle Morgan

Northern Ireland 2025 Judge

I have been the librarian at St Paul’s High School in Bessbrook for almost 24 years and still consider it to be the best job in the world. During that time, it has been my passion to introduce students to the wonderful world of literature and encourage them to read for pleasure. My own love of reading began when I became pupil librarian in primary school, and I have been trying to escape reality through reading ever since!

I studied Library and Information Studies with English at Queen’s University, Belfast, with a keen interest in the Children’s Literature and Media Studies modules. After graduating, I moved to London and worked for 12 years as a media librarian and researcher for LWT and the BBC. My time in Light Entertainment and News and Current Affairs honed my research, networking, and communication skills. I returned home in 1998 and worked at BBC NI for a year. I am secretary of the Southern Region Librarians Group and a member of CILIP and the School Library Association.

I endeavour to instil in every student, a love of reading, with library classes, author visits, book clubs, Book Buzz, World Book Day, BBC Young Reporter and celebrating other important dates on the literary calendar. Keeping up to date with what is happening in the magical world of young adult fiction is extremely important to me, as is the voice of authors who include themes of diversity and inclusion in their work.

It is a real honour for me to represent Northern Ireland as a judge and I am looking forward to meeting fellow school librarians and most of all, reading and rereading all the nominated books.

Charlotte Dormer

South East 2025 Judge

When I was five, I asked for a library. My parents got me a bookcase, and I gleefully began to fill it with as many books as I could get my hands on. Books are an escape, a way of knowing that you are not alone in how you feel. Twenty eight years later, and I’ve now had the privilege of working in two very different libraries and several schools to bring that same love of reading, that same sense of refuge to other children.

I have worked in both Primary and Secondary schools, first for two years as a Teaching Assistant working with teenagers mostly to improve their reading, and then for five years as a primary school librarian in a large school in a low-income area. These roles were extremely rewarding and nothing will ever beat those moments when you manage to place the right book into the hands of a child at the exact minute they need it, that moment when they find themselves reflected in the pages and disappear into their book – utter magic.

In 2019 I moved to the Learning Hub – the teaching resource centre at the University of Reading, where I support trainee teachers in their studies and in selecting materials to use in schools on placement. The Carnegies are such an integral part of introducing teachers to the best of new literature for children, and I’m so excited to be part of the judging team.

Heather Davey

South West 2025 Judge

I have been an avid reader since I was a child and enjoy all sorts of books – from magical realism to dystopian fiction, from books tackling gritty contemporary issues to unsettling ghost stories and horror – anything goes! After completing a Theology degree and a post-graduate certificate in education, I trained as a librarian at Aberystwyth University. I have had the privilege of working in a variety of libraries, including the historic Bodleian library in Oxford, the library at the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton, and a music library in Winchester. I absolutely love my current job at Bournemouth School for Girls where I have worked for seventeen years. Spending my days chatting to young people about books, swapping recommended reads, and getting excited about new publications are just a few of the fun things about it!

As well as being a reader, I am also an author. I have an MA in Writing for Young People from Bath Spa University and am an alumna of one of Curtis Brown Creative’s courses. My novels are published by Titan Books and are out in 2025 and 2026.

I am tremendously excited and deeply honoured to have been selected as a judge for the South West and am really looking forward to getting stuck in…

Jenni Prestwood

East Midlands 2025 Judge

From the moment I learnt how to read, I loved it, I devoured anything and everything I could find, including everything my older brother read. It came as no surprise to my family that I pursued a career in libraries.

I attended Nottingham Trent University and studied English with Media and Cultural Studies. After I finished, I started working in public libraries all across Nottinghamshire, from tiny community libraries to large town libraries and everything in between! In 2016 I moved over to working in secondary school libraries. This is a role I have found really fulfilling, its not always easy, getting a teenager to read a book when there are a million other things to occupy their time. But I persevere with all of my students, and it’s always a pleasure to find something they want to read. I would like to think my school library provides something for everyone, including a popular book club and a Warhammer club.

I have completed both a CILIP certification and a chartership and have also volunteered my time as treasurer for Kids Lit Quiz UK and for the CILIP East Midlands Regional Network. I also run a local book club where our diverse opinions mean we always have plenty to talk about.

I am beyond excited to be representing the East Midlands as the next Carnegie judge, I cannot wait to get reading!

Dawn Holley

Wales 2025 Judge

I have always had a passion for children’s literature and way back in 1992 wrote my dissertation on ‘real’ books versus reading schemes for emergent readers. I qualified as a primary teacher with a special interest in the acquisition of reading skills.

Since that time, I have seen a huge advancement in the adaptations for readers with dyslexia enabling many more people to develop a love of reading. It makes me so happy when a child who has faced reading challenges can find and read books intended for their age group, which they can relate to and look just like the books their friends are reading.

For the past five years I have worked in the busy Swansea Central Public Library, immersing myself in all aspects of the library but have maintained my interest in children’s literacy and literature. I can usually be found in the children’s area working to create eye-catching displays or discussing books with our younger members. I particularly enjoy school visits which offer accessibility to children who might not otherwise attend and gives me the opportunity to help inspire children to pick up a book.

I am excited to be a part of the Yoto Carnegie Medals and am looking forward to reading, discussing and debating the best works of current children’s literature and illustration, bringing a Welsh viewpoint to the table.

Katerina Karavapori

London 2025 Judge

I remember very fondly spending hours on end in my local library as a child, in Stockholm. There was a huge red, wooden carved dragon and every bump on his back was a seat. You can imagine the excitement! Growing up, my love for reading only grew stronger and I discovered the magic of creating worlds in my head and experiencing adventures and feelings by reading someone else’s words. 

After 13 happy years teaching Reception in Greece and Singapore, I found myself in London where serendipitously a librarian vacancy came up in a nearby Prep School. So, I have been able to combine my love for teaching and storytelling in the most wonderful way. I am passionate about promoting reading for pleasure and my goal is to find that one book for every child that will make them a passionate and life-long reader.

I strongly believe that change will only come through equipping the younger generations to dream big, believe in themselves, stand up for what they believe, fight for what’s right and take their future and fate in their own hands with creativity and wild imagination. And seeing themselves represented in the books they read, relating to the characters in the stories, and celebrating their achievements, is the easiest way to get to this result. 

Admittedly, children’s literature is having its moment in the spotlight and we’ve been lucky to read some phenomenal books in the last few years. I am beyond excited to embark on this journey with all my fellow judges and celebrate all the remarkable stories and illustrations that so many incredibly talented authors and illustrators have given us. Happy reading! 

Nicole Wilson

Scotland 2025 Judge

I have always enjoyed books and reading as a hobby, being well known at my local library as the child who regularly tried to exceed the borrowing limit.  However, it was not inevitable I would end up as a librarian or in another book-related profession.  I even stopped reading for joy completely as a teenager for a couple of years, which is why when I went to university I studied German, graduating in 2010. 

After a couple of years in the world of work, my curiosity for learning and reading combined and I entered the MSc Information and Library Studies course at Strathclyde.  Upon graduation in 2014, I knew one thing for definite: whatever branch of librarianship I ended up in, I wanted to work with young people, having been influenced by many years of volunteering with GirlGuiding UK.  I am delighted to say I have been a secondary school librarian for nearly nine years now and still enjoying (almost) every minute.  I love to meet the new S1 every August, wave goodbye to the S6 every May and through those years in-between promote, discuss and engage our young people with a wide range of teenage and YA literature. 

Throughout my time as a school librarian, I have followed the process of various book awards, including the Carnegies, and shared shortlisted titles with classes and book groups.  To say I was gobsmacked when I was offered the role as a judge for the 2024/25 awards is a gross understatement – I re-read that email many times!  To be involved as a judge is a huge privilege and I look forward to every minute.