SHORTLISTS ANNOUNCED FOR THE UKLA BOOK AWARDS 2024

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  • Diverse voices, genres, formats and age groups celebrated.
  • First shortlisting appearances for UCLan Publishing and The O’Brien Press
  • Kwame Alexander the only previous winner to be shortlisted in 2024

@The_UKLA  #UKLA24   #teachersbookawards

The University of Sussex was the venue for a day of passionate debate, as the 84 teacher judges whittled down the exceptional longlists to the six books now shortlisted in each of the four categories. As Chris Lockwood, Awards Chair said, “This is always a difficult task, especially when we had such rich and varied books in the longlists.  It is always a delight to listen to talented and creative teachers talk about how they have used the longlisted books in their classrooms. The 2024 team of teacher judges brought their passion, expertise and enthusiasm to the task and, as a result, we have four marvellous shortlists.”

 The UKLA Book Awards are the only national UK children’s book awards judged entirely by teachers. Their task, defined by the criteria, is to find texts from a  “wide and inclusive range” of publishers that will “recognise a broad range of perspectives, experiences and voices” but that “first and foremost” are “well written, engaging ‘reads’ “.  These awards are completely  devoid of any commercial influence,  and it is notable that once again  we see a strong presence of small, independent publishers,  including first  shortlist appearances for UCLan, the unique  children’s publishing arm of the University of Central Lancaster and for The O’Brien Press from Dublin.

For UKLA, giving classroom practitioners the opportunity to read high quality 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. As judge Jane Branson said  “The book talk with colleagues has been stimulating and invaluable” and fellow judge Rachel Gonin agreed “ My school is definitely a richer, more knowledgeable and better read place for me having taken part” 

The 3-6+ age category has author Steve McCarthy, currently also shortlisted for the Carnegie medal for Illustration, for The Wilderness a whimsical adventure inspiring children to overcome fear and explore outdoors,  in direct competition with twice Carnegie winner, Emily Gravett,  who is shortlisted for 10 Dogs, a really funny story about dogs which brilliantly teaches about number bonds to 10. In a shortlist of great variety, they are joined by Irish author Paddy Donnelly with Fox & Son Tailers, a pun- packed, heartwarming story about not being afraid to stand out from the crowd, Leigh Hodgkinson with Martha Maps it Out, an immersive guide to Martha’s world and her imagination and best-selling author Kaye Umansky with Dick the Delightful Duck,  who is hilariously having a very bad mood day, in a book which opens up discussions about feelings. The judges final choice is John Dougherty’s The Hare Shaped Hole,  a touching and beautifully age appropriate metaphor to depict bereavement, which leaves young readers in a hopeful , optimistic place.

In the empathy and genre rich 7-10+ category  which has something for the whole age range,  Camilla Chester’s touching debut Call Me Lion and Anne Marie Conway’s sensitive How to be More Hedgehog, both feature protagonists battling with communication difficulties, bullying and family issues and in Finn Jones Was Here Simon James Green  features a young boy in total denial about his best friend’s death and manages to be both hilarious and heartbreaking. There is a second shortlisting for Lesley Parr, with  Where the River Takes Us, a thrilling adventure mystery about the power of friendship, set in a Welsh valley in the 1970s. The list also features a current Carnegie shortlisted title, Zillah Bethell’s extraordinary The Song Walker, which weaves Aboriginal folklore into a courageous story of friendship, loss and discovery and Wildsmith: Into the Dark Forest, Liz Flanagan’s richly imagined fantasy world full of magic, mystery and dragons.

 In the 11-14+ category, Hot Key Books repeats its 2021 feat of securing two books on this shortlist and coincidentally also mirroring their success on the current Carnegie shortlist for Writing with Tia Fisher’s powerful verse novel debut,  Crossing the Line,  dealing with highly topical county lines exploitation of vulnerable youths joining Nathaneal Lessore’s comedic,  relatable and authentic debut Steady For This. Also sharing with them a place on the Carnegie and UKLA shortlist are Sophie Cameron with Away With Words,  which explores what it means for words to mean everything and their loss to mean even more and Ruta Sepetys with I Must Betray You which powerfully explores what it was like for families and friends under the brutal Ceausescu regime. Similarly in Zoulfa Katouh’s breathtaking debut, As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow,  we experience Salama’s struggle to live the life of an ordinary teenager during the Syrian civil war. Finally we have bestselling fantasy author Sabaa Tahir’s, All My Rage, an unforgettable contemporary novel about family and forgiveness, love and loss, in a story that crosses generations and continents and has already won a National Book Award, the Michael J Prinz Award and the Boston Globe Horn Award in her native USA.

 Kwame Alexander repeats his 2021 shortlisting in the category of Information Books 3-14+ and could be in line for a second win with The Unspoken, which in words and images does not shy away from the horrors of slavery yet is balanced with hope for the future.  With  the beautiful and informative, Whose Tracks in the Snow, Alexandra Milton has improved upon her 2020 longlist place and introduces young children to animal track identification. Darwin and Hooker,  the accessible biography by Alexander Stewart explores “one of science’s most important friendships” and  leads the reader to understand the struggles of making ground-breaking scientific discoveries.  In a  moving autobiographical account, written for children, The Boy Who Didn’t Want to Die, Peter Lantos shares his experiences as a five year old child in Belsen Belsen.  Husband and wife team Donna and Vikesh Amey Bhat’s Lands of Belonging,  importantly explores  the rich and complicated history of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Britain. The final book in this wide ranging shortlist demonstrates the variety of text types available. Using a graphic novel scientist-notebook style Saving H’Non: Chang and the Elephant with a mix of Vietnamese art and manga, this stunningly informative text tells an important environmental story about the work of the Animals Asia Foundation.

The fact that these shortlists are judged by class teachers and can be heartily recommended to their peers makes them particularly useful as co-sponsor Deborah Maclaren, Managing Director of LoveReading4Kids, long time supporter of the UKLA and cheerleader of children’s books, commented: “We are so proud to be involved with these very special Awards. We stand united with the UKLA in our mission of celebrating the very best children’s books being published today. With social purpose at our heart our aim is to help get more books into the hands of children in schools, through our online bookstore and Funding Scheme. And what a brilliant selection of books these are. We’ll be shouting about these to our LoveReading4Kids audience and the 14,000 schools who are members of our LoveReading4Schools platform.

We are delighted to be involved with this celebration of reading for pleasure. The only national awards to be judged entirely by teachers, the UKLA Awards are a remarkable thing, with the added bonus that practitioners can experience and appreciate first-hand the impact these beautiful books have on the children themselves in their classrooms. Huge congratulations to all of the shortlisted authors and illustrators, and a hearty well done to the publishers who make these books happen. The longlists were outstanding and the teacher judges had the unenviable task of whittling them down to this shortlist so kudos to all who made it this far. We can’t wait to see who the winners are at the ceremony in July. Good luck everyone from LoveReading4Kids!”

Stephen Park, Commercial Director at co -sponsor Reading Cloud, said: “Encouraging reading for enjoyment and improving literacy are very much at the heart of Reading Cloud, so we are delighted to support these worthwhile and unique children’s book awards as co-sponsors again this year. We are always heartened to see so many dedicated teacher judges all over the UK working with the longlisted, shortlisted, and winning books to inspire a love of reading in their pupil groups and beyond. We look forward to hearing more about the winning titles in due course.”

12 teachers nominated from the 84 involved in the shortlisting will now form the final judging panel and have the challenging task of reading all the shortlisted books in all categories. The winner’s announcement will take place at the UKLA International Conference at the University of Sussex on 5th July.

For further information and to request an interview with the shortlisted authors and illustrators, or for images, please contact fao Chris Lockwood awards@ukla.org

The Shortlists in full

3-6+                            

Fox & Son Tailers written and illustrated byPaddy Donnelly (The O’Brien Press)

The Hare-Shaped Hole written by John Dougherty and illustrated by Thomas Docherty (Frances Lincoln)

10 Dogs written and illustrated by Emily Gravett (Two Hoots)

Martha Maps It Out written and illustrated by Leigh Hodgkinson (Oxford)

The Wilderness written and illustrated by Steve McCarthy (Walker)

Dick the Delightful Duck written by Kaye Umansky and illustrated by Ben Mantle (Alison Green)

7-10+                          

The Song Walker written by Zillah Bethell and illustrated by Saara Katariina Söderlund (Usborne)

Call Me Lion written by Camilla Chester and illustrated by Irina Avgustinovich (Firefly)

How to be More Hedgehog written by Anne Marie Conway and illustrated by Danielle Dey (Uclan)

Wildsmith: Into the Dark Forest written by Liz Flanagan and illustrated by Joe Todd-Stanton (Uclan)

Finn Jones Was Here written by Simon James Green and illustrated by Jennifer Jamieson (Scholastic)

Where the River Takes Us written by Lesley Parr and illustrated by David Dean  (Bloomsbury)

11-14+                         

Away with Words written by Sophie Cameron (Little Tiger)

Crossing the Line written by Tia Fisher (Hot Key)

As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow written by Zoulfa Katouh (Bloomsbury)

Steady for This written by Nathanael Lessore (Hot Key)

All My Rage written by Sabaa Tahir (Atom)

I Must Betray You written by Ruta Sepetys (Hodder)

Information Books 3-14+                                 

Unspoken written by Kwame Alexander and illustrated by Dare Coulter (Andersen)

Lands of Belonging: A History of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Britain written by Vikesh Amey Bhatt, and Donna Amey Bhatt and illustrated by Salini Perera (Nosy Crow)

The Boy Who Didn’t Want to Die written by Peter Lantos (Scholastic)

Whose Tracks in the Snow? Written and illustrated by Alexandra Milton (Boxer Books)

Saving H’Non: Chang and the Elephant written by Trang Nguyen and illustrated by Jeet Zdung (Macmillan)

Darwin & Hooker written by Alexander Stewart and illustrated by Joe Todd-Stanton (Bloomsbury)

Notes to Editors

About UKLA

 UKLA is a registered charity, which has as its sole object the advancement of education in literacy. UKLA is committed to promoting good practice nationally and internationally in literacy and language teaching and research. The Association was founded in 1963 as the United Kingdom Reading Association. In 2003 it changed its name to the United Kingdom Literacy Association, to reflect more accurately its wider range of focus and interest.

UKLA especially supports the development of approaches to literacy learning and teaching which underpin these understandings. The Association recognises the significance for effective language and communication learning of literature, drama, the visual media, non-fiction texts and information technology, as well as welcoming approaches to teaching which draw on the resources of a wide range of cultures and which are informed by a detailed understanding of how literacy and language work.

About Reading Cloud

Sponsors Reading Cloud have over 30 years’ experience providing feature rich innovative software for schools and 6th form colleges. Our intuitive & flexible library systems support several thousand schools with managing their libraries and reading resources. Engaging their students in reading, supporting independent learning, promoting reading for pleasure and in improving literacy, with a growing 4.5 million active borrowers worldwide.

Reading Cloud provides all the tools and functionality needed for day-to-day school library management as well as a safe online student reading community to ensure all students are able to develop long lasting positive attitudes to reading.

To find out more visit www.ess-readingcloud.co.uk

About LoveReading4Kids

The LoveReading family exists because reading matters, and books change lives.

LoveReading4Kids is the UK’s leading book recommendation brand for children’s books: reading, reviewing and shouting about books right across the age ranges.

Since 2005 families across the nation have relied on LoveReading4Kids to help them find their next favourite book.

They’ve had a busy year! In July 2022, they relaunched as a bookstore with social purchase.

Buy from their bookstores, get 10% off RRPs and 25% of the cover price will be given to a school of the customer’s choice to buy more books.

In September 2022, LoveReading4Schools, merged into LoveReading4Kids creating a reading for pleasure hub to make it easier for them to support schools across the UK.

LoveReading4Schools is now a portal within LoveReading4Kids creating a one-stop shop for reading for pleasure. Book recommendations, reading lists, develop wishlists, buy books and share the love – because 25% of every book bought on LoveReading and LoveReading4Kids can be allocated to your school. So every penny you spend and your community spends gives you money back to buy more books.

Visit www.lovereading4kids.co.uk

Sign up the LoveReading4Schools portal https://www.lovereading4kids.co.uk/school/dashboard

Email schools@lovereading.co.uk if you have any questions

Past Winners

2023

3-6+

Flooded written and illustrated by Mariajo Ilustrajo (Frances Lincoln)

7-10+

The Light in Everything written by Katya Balen (Bloomsbury)

11-14+

The Crossing written by Manjeet Mann (Penguin)

11-14+

Musical Truth: A Musical History of Modern Black Britain in 28 Songs written by Jeffrey   Boakye and illustrated by Ngadi Smart (Faber)

Highly Commended

Here and Queer written by Rowan Ellis and illustrated by Jacky Sheridan (Frances Lincoln)

2022

3-6+ Joint Winners

Barbara Throws a Wobbler written and illustrated by Nadia Shireen, (Puffin)

The Invisible written and illustrated by Tom Percival (Simon & Schuster)

7-10+

October, October written by Katya Balen, illustrated by Angela Harding  (Bloomsbury)

Highly Commended

Front Desk written by Kelly Yang (Knights Of)

11-14+

Punching The Air written by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam (HarperCollins)

Highly Commended

Tsunami Girl     written by Julian Sedgwick, illustrated by Chie Kutsuwada (Guppy Books)

Information Books 3-14+

Nano written by Dr Jess Wade, illustrated by Melissa Castrillon (Walker)

2021

3-6+

Look Up! Written by Nathan Bryon, illustrated by Dapo Adeola (Puffin)

7-10+

Check Mates written by Stewart Foster (Simon & Schuster)

Highly Commended

Owen and the Soldier written by Lisa Thompson, illustrated by Mike Lowery (Barrington Stoke)  

11-14+ (Joint Winners)

Run Rebel written by Manjeet Mann (Penguin)

The Last Paper Crane     written by Kerry Drewery, illustrated by Natsko Seki (Hot Key)

Information Books 3-14+

The Undefeated written by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Kadir Nelson (Andersen Press)

2020

3-6+

Mixedwritten and illustrated by Arree Chung (Macmillan)

7-10+

The Eleventh Tradewritten by Alyssa Hollingsworth (Piccadilly Press)

11- 14+

No Fixed Addresswritten by Susin Nielsen (Andersen Press)

Information Books 3-14+

Counting on Katherinewritten by Helaine Becker and illustrated by Dow Phumiruck  (Macmillan)

 Highly Commended

A Child of St.  Kildawritten and illustrated by Beth Waters (Child’s Play)

2019

3-6

After the Fall written and illustrated by Dan Santat         (Andersen Press)

7-11

The Explorer written by Katherine Rundell, illustrated by Hannah Horn (Bloomsbury)

Highly Commended

Running on Empty written by S. E. Durrant, illustrated by Rob Biddulph (Nosy Crow)

12-16

Long Way Down written by Jason Reynolds, illustrated by Chris Priestly (Faber)

Highly Commended

The Poet X written by Elizabeth Acevedo (Egmont Electric Monkey)

2018

3-6:  Colin and Lee, Carrot and Pea written and illustrated by Morag Hood (Two Hoots)

7-11: (Joint Winners) Lesser Spotted Animals written and illustrated by Martin Brown (David Fickling Books)

Welcome to Nowhere written by Elizabeth Laird and illustrated by Lucy Eldridge (Macmillan)

12-16: Come Apart written by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan (Bloomsbury)

2017

3-6:  There’s a Bear on MY Chair written and illustrated by Ross Collins (Nosy Crow)

7-11: The Journey written and illustrated by Francesca Sanna (Flying Eye Books)

12-16: The Reluctant Journal of Henry K Larsen written by Susin Nielsen (Andersen Press)

Highly Commended: The Marvels written and illustrated by Brian Selznick (Scholastic)

2016

3-6: Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion written and illustrated by Alex.T. Smith, (Scholastic)

Highly Commended: On Sudden Hill written by Linda Sarah and illustrated by Benji Davies (Simon & Schuster)

7-11: The Imaginary written by A.F. Harrold and illustrated by Emily Gravett (Bloomsbury)

Highly Commended: The Boundless written by Kenneth Oppel, (David Fickling)

12-16+ : The Lie Tree by Francis Hardinge( Macmillan)

2015

3-6: The Day the Crayons Qui written by Drew Daywalt and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers (HarperCollins)

7-11: Oliver and the Seawigs written and illustrated by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre, (Oxford University Press)

Highly Commended 7-11 Award: Us Minus Mum written by Heather Butler (Little,Brown)

12-16: Every Day written by David Levithan (Egmont)

2014

3-6:  This is not my Hat written and illustrated by Jon Klassen (Walker Books)

Highly Commended 3-6 Award: Open Very Carefully written by Nick Bromley and illustrated by Nicola O’Byrne (Nosy Crow)

7- 11: The Story of the Blue Planet written by Andri Snær Magnason, translated  by Julian Meldon D’Arcy and illustrated by Áslaug Jónsdóttir (Pushkin Press)

12- 16:  Now is the Time for Running written by Michael Williams, (Tamarind Books, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books)

2013

3 – 6: Good Little Wolf written and illustrated by Nadia Shireen (Jonathan Cape)

7 – 11: The Weight of Water written by Sarah Crossan (Bloomsbury)

12- 16:  Code Name Verity written by Elizabeth Wein (Electric Monkey)

2012

3 – 6: Iris and Isaac written and illustrated by Catherine Rayner (Little Tiger Press)

7 – 11: Sky Hawk written by Gill Lewis (Oxford University Press)

12 – 16: A Monster Calls written by Patrick Ness and illustrated by Jim Kay (Walker)

2011

3-11:   Birdsong written and illustrated by Ellie Sandall (Egmont)

12-16: Out of Shadows written by Jason Wallace (Andersen Press)

2010

3-11:  Then, written by Morris Gleitzman (Puffin)

12-16: The Graveyard Book written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Chris Riddell ( (Bloomsbury)

Special commendation: Tales from Outer Suburbia written and illustrated by Shaun Tan, (Templar)

2009

3-11: Archie’s War written and illustrated by Marcia Williams (Walker)

Highly commended 3-11: The Invention of Hugo Cabret written and illustrated by  Brian Selznick  (Scholastic)

12-16: Bog Child written by Siobhan Dowd (David Fickling – Random House Children’s Books)

2008

Picture book category: Penguin, written and illustrated by Polly Dunbar (Walker )

Here lies Arthur written by Philip Reeve, (Scholastic)

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