New Criteria, new award and new publishers reflected in UKLA Book Awards 2020 longlists

​The 12th year of these unique book awards, which are the only national awards judged by active classroom teachers, sees a revision of the age boundaries and the creation of a new award category for information books, as well as revised judging criteria seeking to make the awards more diverse and inclusive.


The 12th year of these unique book awards, which are the only national awards judged by active classroom teachers, sees a revision of the age boundaries and the creation of a new award category for information books, as well as revised judging criteria seeking to make the awards more diverse and inclusive. Submissions were particularly sought from small publishers and a record 422 submissions were received. These were read by an experienced panel of past teacher judges, ex-teachers, librarians and consultants and the resulting longlists reveal a strong showing for poetry and works in translation and featuring debut authors and debut publishers as well as more familiar names.

This year the teacher judges for Fiction and Poetry come from the Midlands region around Oxford, with the 2020 UKLA International Conference, at which the eventual winners are announced, being held at Jury’s Inn, Godstow Road, Oxford. The judging of the new category for Information Books is taking place in Scotland and being coordinated by St Anthony’s Primary in Renfrewshire, UKLA Literacy School of the Year in 2018. There are 70 judges in total covering the four categories and they have until mid-March to read the longlisted books, discuss them with their group leaders, and share them with pupils. All groups will then meet together for the difficult task of choosing their shortlist of 6 books in each category.

Headteachers welcomed the opportunity to receive new books for their schools and for their teachers to widen their knowledge of recent children’s titles. For UKLA, giving classroom practitioners the opportunity to read a number of new 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 funding to purchase them when they do.

UKLA are grateful for the continued support of the award sponsors, which help the awards to grow and develop each year. Capita Reading Cloud, Lovereading4schools and Lovereading4kids, recognise the value of the judging experience for schools and teachers:

“LoveReading4Schools and its sister site LoveReading4Kids are delighted to again support the UKLA Book Awards in 2020. Under new ownership the brand has been re-launched and the sites re-designed to bring them bang up-to-date and will continue to develop further to further support our mission to promote a love of books and reading by offering the tools, advice and information needed to help our members and browsers to find their next favourite book.

The fact that the teacher judges reflect on their students’ responses to the books gives these Awards huge credibility and trust so that schools know the books will be in turn loved by their own pupils. The awards are equally valuable for parents looking to support the school environment and further engender a love of reading at home.” Deborah Maclaren Director of Lovereading4Kids

“Capita Reading Cloud are thrilled to be supporting these worthwhile and unique children’s book awards as co-sponsors. It is heartening to see so many dedicated teacher judges working with the longlisted, shortlisted and winning books to inspire a love of reading in their pupil groups and beyond. Encouraging reading for enjoyment is something very much at the centre of Reading Cloud and through our platform, pupils can review and recommend books sharing their enthusiasm for reading through a variety of innovative and engaging tools and features.”

The UKLA Selection Panel, chaired by Christine Lockwood, were pleased to highlight exciting debut authors as well as established and familiar names in children’s literature. Of particular note is the success of small publishing houses like Scallywag Press, Boxer Books, The O’Brien Press, What on Earth Publishing, Knights Of, Scribe, Alma Books and Child’s Play. Chris Lockwood says: “the quality of the record number of submissions this year was of a particularly high standard and the panel had no easy task, but we are confident that the teachers and schools involved in the judging will benefit enormously from the impact of these quality texts in their schools” All of the books exemplify the new award criteria’s aim of encouraging teachers’ knowledge of high quality children’s books that can reflect all identities and promote diversity.

Longlist 3-6+

TitleAuthorIllustratorTranslator Imprint
When Sadness Came to callEland, EvaAndersen Press
Splash DaySharratt, NickBarrington Stoke
I Can FlyKuo, FifiBoxer Books
The HugMcLaughlin, EoinDunbar, PollyFaber & Faber
If all the World were…Coehlo, JosephColpoys, AllisonFrances Lincoln
The VisitorDamm, Antje Spencer,Sally-AnnGecko Press
TadDavies, BenjiHarper Collins
AmazingAntony, SteveHodder
MixedChung, AreeMacmillan
I Am a TigerNewson, KarlCollins, RossMacmillan
What Does an Anteater eat?Collins, RossNosy Crow
The SuitcaseNaylor-Ballesteros, ChrisNosy Crow
The Rabbit, The Dark and the Biscuit TinO’Byrne, NicolaNosy Crow
Lubna and PebbleMeddour, WendyEgneus, DanielOxford
Red and the CityVoight, MarieOxford
How to be a LionVere, EdPuffin
The Wall in the Middle of the BookAgee, JohnScallywag Press
How to Light Your DragonLevy, DidierBenaglia, FredThames & Hudson
Cyril and PatGravett, EmilyTwo Hoots
The Day War CameDavies, NicolaCobb, RebeccaWalker Books
Julian is a MermaidLove, JessicaWalker Books

Longlist 7-10+

TitleAuthorIllustratorTranslator Imprint
SlickVaughan, M.MAlma Books
#GoldilocksWillis, JeanneRoss, TonyAndersen Press
Race to the Frozen NorthJohnson, CatherineHickey, KatieBarrington Stoke
Run WildLewis, GillBarrington Stoke
Armistice RunnerPalmer, TomBarrington Stoke
The Boy Who Hit PlayDaykin, ChloeFaber & faber
High Rise MysteryJackson, SharnaKnights of
The Runaway RobotBoyce, Frank CottrellLenton, StevenMacmillan
The MiddlerApplebaum, KirstyNosy Crow
The Boy at the Back of the ClassRauf, Onjali QOrion
Corey’s RockBrahmachari, SitaRay, JaneOtter-Barry Books
A Kid in My ClassRooney, RachelRiddell, ChrisOtter-Barry Books
The Legend of KevinReeve, PhilipMcIntyre, SarahOxford
The Eleventh TradeHollingsworth, AlyssaPiccadilly
The Lost MagicianTorday PiersQuercus
The Star-Spun WebbO’Hart, SineadStripes
The Phoenix of PersiaClayton, Sally Pomme Sharif ,Amin HassanzadehTiny Owl
The Dog Who Lost His BarkColfer, EoinLynch, P.JWalker Books
Cloud BoyWilliams, MarciaWalker Books
The DamAlmond, DavidPinfold, LeviWalker Books
A Year of Nature PoemsCoehlo, JosephJudd, Kelly LouiseWide Eyed Editions

Longlist 11-14+

TitleAuthorIllustratorTranslator Imprint
MonstersDogar, SharonAndersen Press
No Fixed AddressNielsen, SusinAndersen Press
Pay Attention Carter JonesSchmidt, Gary DAndersen Press
One ShotLandman, TanyaBarrington Stoke
LarkMcGowan, AnthonyBarrington Stoke
Weight of a Thousand FeathersConaghan, BrianBloomsbury
ToffeeCrossan, sarahBloomsbury
Gifted, talented and MeSutcliff, WilliamBloomsbury
The Key to FlambardsNewbery, LindaDavid Fickling Books
Bone TalkGourlay, CandyDavid Fickling Books
GhostReynolds, jasonKnights Of
The Skylark’s WarMcKay, HilaryMacmillan
Everything All At OnceCamden, SteveMacmillan
Catching Teller CrowKwaymullina, AmbelinPuffin
Lenny’s Book of EverythingFoxlee,KarenPushkin Press
Lampie and the Children of the SeaSchaap, AnnetWatkinson, LauraPushkin Press
The BurningBates, lauraSimon & Schuster
And the Ocean was our SkyNess, PatrickWalker Books
Louis UndercoverBritt, FannyArsenault, IsabelleWalker Studio

Information Books

TitleAuthorIllustratorTranslator Imprint
When the Stars Come Out Edwards, Nicola Cartwright, Lucy360 Degrees
Born to Ride Theule, Larissa Garrity-Riley, KelseyAbrams Books for Young Readers
Mary and Frankenstein Bailey, Linda Sardὰ,Jũlia Andersen Press
Once Upon a Raindrop Carter, James NomocoCaterpillar books
Child of St Kilda Waters, BethChilds Play
The Lost Book of AdventureKeen, TeddyFrances Lincoln
The Element in the Room Barfield, Mike Humphrey, LaurenLaurence King Publishing
A Book of Bears Viggers, KatieLaurence King Publishing
Counting on KatherineBecker, Helaine Phumiruk, DowMacmillan
Free to be MeDom & InkPenguin
On the Origin of SpeciesRadeva, SabinaPuffin
Questions I am Asked about the HolocaustFried, HeidiScribe
A History of Pictures for ChildrenHockney,David and Gayford, Martin Blake, RoseThames & Hudson
Bright Sparks O’Doherty, OwenThe O’Brien Press
Life: The First Four Billion YearsJenkins,MartinBaker-Smith, GrahameWalker Studio
Absolutely Everything Lloyd, ChristopherForshaw, AndyWhat on Earth Publishing
Eye Spy: Wild Ways Animals See the WorldDuprat,GuillaumeWhat on Earth Publishing
Boy oh BoyLeek, Cliff Rohlmann, BeneWide Eyed Editions

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