In this section

Meet the Judges

The Yoto Carnegie Judges 2024

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.

Amanda Adams

Eastern 2024 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 2023-24 Medals cycle.

Maura Farrelly

Chair of Judges 2024

Growing up I was obsessed with the idea of smugglers, boarding school, running away to join the circus or starting a theatre in an abandoned building. Children in books had such exciting lives and I was right there with them.

My first library was little more than a shelved broom cupboard, but I loved it nonetheless. Even carpeting the cement floor with the remnants that had been helpfully stored there!

That was 30 years ago. Most of the years in between have been spent as a librarian working with children and young people, mainly in schools for the Education Service. When my children were young, I made a move to Queen’s University Belfast, which allowed more flexibility; initially working evenings and weekends before settling very happily in Special Collections for several years. It was an incredible experience, surrounded by book, map and manuscript collections dating back as far as the Twelfth Century. My first love will always be school libraries, however and I am now librarian for Victoria College Belfast where I work with pupils from the age of 3 up to 18. Reading stories, taking classes and making the library a welcoming space, creating a place that is a little bit magical; all the better to inspire and encourage imagination.

I had the great pleasure to be a CKG judge in 2018-19 and 2021 and I am excited and honoured to be Chair of Judges for 2024.

Gemma Wright

North West 2024 Judge

I have been a Librarian for 20+ years and I have always loved reading. As a child, I would beg my mum to take me to the local library as I would often run out of books. Who would have known that my very first job at the age of 18, would be at this very same library that I used to visit! It was a dream come true.

Since then I have worked in a variety of Public, School and Higher Education Libraries, most recently moving to Liverpool John Moores University where I had also studied English Literature as a student myself. Throughout my career, I have enjoyed organising children’s story times, baby bounce and rhyme, school visits and Summer Reading Challenge events. In school libraries, I ran many book groups including following the Kate Greenaway Medal with neurodiverse students. I organised events with other local schools to promote reading, poetry and the Awards. Helping other school librarians in this way led to the relaunch of the Merseyside School Library Association where I am Vice Chair. Since moving to Higher Education, my love of children’s literature has not dissipated. I am Vice Chair for the local branch of the charity The Federation of Children’s Book Groups which aims to bring the joy of reading to disadvantaged areas. I have recently been a panellist for the BookTrust organisation and I am a reviewer for the School Library Association magazine, The TSL. Becoming a Judge for 2023-24 is the highlight in a varied career so far and I am so excited to get started!

Katy Lane-Ryan

Yorkshire & Humber 2024 Judge

I have been working for North Yorkshire libraries for the last five years as a supervisor, outreach librarian and most recently a project manager. I love my current role but have been genuinely delighted to dive back into children’s literature as a judge.

I studied English Literature at Newcastle University; particularly revelling in their module in children’s literature. After university I wandered off in search of adventure, but stories and working with children always remained a massive part of my life.

From working with children from inner city New York, to those on a remote island on a Canadian lake through to young people in Saudi Arabia, I have always found stories an international language and a key to common empathy and understanding. 

These experiences fed into my belief that all children should be able to see themselves in the literature they read. The commitment the Yoto Carnegie Awards have to authentic representation is one of the many reasons I am so proud to be a judge.

Since returning from five years in Saudi Arabia I have taught and worked with refugee communities here in North Yorkshire and have finally found my way, calling like, into working in libraries. Despite my lifelong love of libraries this is something I had resisted for some time. However, I have found libraries to be much more than ‘just’ cathedrals of learning and homes to amazing literature. They are also one of the last truly democratic spaces in our society and I couldn’t be prouder to work in them, or to be one of the judges for these amazing, life changing awards.

Rumena Aktar

West Midlands 2024 Judge

Rumena has worked as a primary school librarian in Birmingham for the past 4 years. She has worked with primary aged children for over 10 years. She is an active member of the online book community, writing reviews on social media and for Imagine Centre. She is also one of the first presenters on Teacher Hug Book Club on Teacher Hug Radio. Her interviews with several well-known authors, including the Kate Greenaway Medal winner and Shadowers’ Choice winners from 2021 can be heard on the Teacher Hug Radio website.

Rumena is known for her advocacy of diversity in children’s literature and has supported schools with improving their knowledge of current, diverse authors and literature. Recently, she has collated a recommended list for the Oxford University Publishing website.

Rumena has also appeared on guest panels in several webinars for Open University RfP and the National Literacy Trust, where she has advocated for libraries, social justice and diversity in children’s literature.

She is currently working with the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion group at the Multi Academy Trust where she works, to ensure that a more inclusive approach is taken within their curriculum. Her key role in this is supporting the group with her extensive knowledge of current children’s literature.

Her work has been recognised by the School’s Library Association and in 2022 she made the Honour’s List for the School Librarian of the Year Award.

Katy Wedderburn

North East 2024 Judge

For as long as I can remember, books have been a huge part of my life and some of my fondest memories from my childhood involve visits to Pudsey Library, falling asleep in bed with a Babysitters Club book on my face or raiding my Nanna’s Catherine Cookson collection whenever we went to stay, so it came as no great surprise to my friends and family when I landed my forever job as a Librarian.

However, here comes the plot twist. I studied for my BA Joint Honours in Childhood Studies and Early Years Care & Education at Northumbria University and went on to pursue a thirteen-year career in childcare, which I adored, until, in the midst of a global pandemic in 2020, the opportunity arose to apply for something new. Becoming a Librarian has given me the chance to combine my two passions; books and working with children so when it was suggested to me that I apply for the judging position, it was a very logical next step.

I am hugely passionate about children’s books and I am constantly in awe of the writers and illustrators who create these treasure troves of language, storytelling and incredible art. I feel both privileged and honoured to be representing the North East region on the awards judging panel for 2023-24, especially so early on in my career. I am excited to work with fellow professionals, and to have the chance to read and highlight incredible children’s books as part of such a prestigious award is just a dream come true.


Michelle Morgan

Northern Ireland 2024 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.

Elizabeth Peters

South East 2024 Judge

When I was brought home, having just been born, it was to live in a library. So began my life-long association with libraries and books! My Dad was a librarian and we lived on the premises in “Library House”.

I graduated from Brighton Polytechnic School of Librarianship as a Chartered Librarian, and have been a member of the Youth Libraries Group throughout my career. I have thoroughly enjoyed all of my library work, which includes Team Librarian, Deputy Branch Librarian, Youth Librarian, Children’s Librarian, as well as working in the School Library Service and in a Reference Library (before the Internet)!

I was also for 17 years, Librarian in a split-site secondary school, running 2 libraries, where amongst copious other things, I organised our own shadowing of the Carnegie Medal, every year. I was more recently Librarian in a primary school; a very rewarding job, with pupils making comments such as “Thank you Mrs Library for the book you gave me, it’s brilliant.”

I’m sure that all the books we judge will be outstanding and that now, as a member of the Judging Panel, I can recommend even more “brilliant” books to even more children. I am delighted to be the South East Region judge, working with fellow librarians, reading, discussing and promoting the books and being part of what must surely be the world’s best book club!

Gareth Evans

South West 2024 Judge

I have been a passionate reader from an early age but I did struggle with my reading when I was in primary school, due to having learning difficulties including Dyslexia. However by persevering with my reading I developed my love for books and spent a lot of my time in my secondary school library reading some of the books they had to offer.

I have been working in the library sector for over 14 years within Wiltshire. Previously as a Library Assistant for Swindon Libraries and for the last six years working as a Secondary School Librarian at Abbeyfield School. During my time at Swindon Libraries, I developed my passion for working with children by becoming a Summer Reading Challenge team leader for period of 4 years at one of the core libraries. I really enjoyed listening to children talking about the books they read and seeing the pride that the children got from completing the reading challenge.

My introduction to the Carnegie awards was when I attend a mingle event in my local region in 2018. During this time, I started my MA Degree in Library and Information Service Management at the University of Sheffield and was advised to join a CILIP networking group. Since being a committee member for YLG South West. I have really been passionate in supporting the awards with running events in our region, developing my reading interests by reading more diverse books and books outside my comfort zone. Running a shadow reading group in school and develop a more diverse library collection for the students in school as well. I’m really honoured to be selected as the Judge for the South West of England for 2023-24

Jenni Prestwood

East Midlands 2024 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 2024 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.

Phyllis Ramage

London 2024 Judge

I began working in libraries in 1994 when my enthusiasm for children’s literature was rekindled after becoming a mother for the first time. I was reminded of the ability of children’s books to transport the reader to another world, encourage empathy, and provide brief escapism. My first post as a library assistant led me to qualify as a librarian in 2000. My first professional post was an fulfilling role as a children’s librarian. Continuing my interest in children’s books I graduated in 2003 with an MA in Children’s Literature from Roehampton University, and later an MA in English from The Open University, where I taught children’s literature for 11 years, and I am now pursuing a PhD at Newcastle University examining ideologies inherent in children’s literature on Africa. I currently work as a librarian in a north London secondary school where I enjoy encouraging engagement with literature. I am proud to represent London on the judging panel.

Nicole Wilson

Scotland 2024 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.