Elizabeth Veda Pickles was a graduate of Durham University, and a teacher who became committed to the encouragement of reading, library services, literacy and – above all – the enjoyment of stories. Highly educated and articulate, she gave a lifetime commitment to and was an effective defender of the importance of children’s literature.
Her interest in children's literature was sparked in the 1960s by the need to challenge reluctant boys who were emergent readers and her concern about the paucity of reading materials for them. She had long associations with the IRA (International Reading Association), CHYPS and the CLA (Children's Literature Association). She was president of the Christchurch CLA for more than a decade. Veda's contribution to these organisations was recognised when she was invited to be a member of the National Advisory Committee for the National Diploma in Children's Literature. She was a stalwart of the Diploma in Children’s Literature course at Christchurch Teachers’ College, working as a course director for the study of picture books; the breadth and depth of her knowledge of children’s picture books was unparalleled.
In 2001 Veda was awarded the Storylines Betty Gilderdale Award “for outstanding service to children's literature”. (Her award speech, published as Friends and Relatives, is on the Storylines website.)