The winners of the 2020 UKLA Book Awards have been announced.
The UKLA Book Awards are the only awards to be judged entirely by teachers and highlight texts that can ‘enhance all aspects of literacy learning’.
The 2020 process has been adapted to respond to the challenges of the COVID-19 lockdown which struck just as the 70 teacher judges from around Oxford and in Renfrewshire were set to come together to choose their shortlists. They then had to do so without being able to share the books with their classes and frequently with only digital copies of the books available to them. But just as schools have been finding virtual ways to teach during lockdown, the virtual judging discussions were just as passionately argued.
There are four categories: 3 – 6+; 7 – 10+; 11 – 14+; and, new, Information Book.
The four winners are:
3 – 6 category
Mixed by Arree Chung, Macmillan, £6.99 pbk
This book was praised by judges for tackling challenging themes, such as racism and prejudice, in a way that does not scare or confuse children and yet worked effectively across the whole primary age range.
7 – 10+ category
The Eleventh Trade by Alyssa Hollingsworth, Piccadilly Press, £6.99 pbk
The judges admired the light touch and sensitive handling of the horrors that refugee Sami fled from and the way the book helps children understand the barriers he faces in a “safe” country.
11 – 14+ category
No Fixed Address, Susin Nielsen, Andersen Press,
The judges praised Nielsen’s book for the way it humanises the hard-hitting subject of homelessness. Nielsen previously won with The Secret Diary of Henry K Larson in 2017.
Counting on Katherine by Helaine Becker, illustrated by Dow Phumiruk, Macmillan, £10.99 hbk
The book celebrates not just women in science and maths, but a black woman in science and maths. ‘This is a biography that makes you want to cheer!’ said the judges.
Such was the quality in this category that the judges also award a Highly Commended.
Child of St Kilda by Beth Waters, Childs Play, £12.99 hbk
For UKLA, giving classroom practitioners the opportunity to read a number of new quality children’s books is as important as finding an overall winner. Research carried out by members of UKLA (Cremin et al 2008) clearly demonstrated the links between teachers’ knowledge of children’s books and the likelihood of pupils becoming successful readers. Despite this evidence, teachers are seldom given time to read new books or the funding to purchase them when they do. As Awards Chair Chris Lockwood said: ‘As predicted the final selection in June was extremely difficult, but it was a pleasure to work with such a committed, creative and insightful group of teacher judges to come up with such outstanding winners under such difficult and trying circumstances.’
The awards are sponsored by Capita Reading Cloud and Lovereading4kids.
You can watch the announcements on the UKLA YouTube channel.