UKLA announces the winner of the UKLA Academic Book Award 2021

Academic Book Award WINNER-2

UKLA is delighted to announce that the unanimous winner of the UKLA Academic Book Award 2021 is How and Why to Read and Create Children’s Digital Books: A Guide for Primary Practitioners by Natalia Kucirkova, published by UCL Press and online.

Smiles broke out on the judging panel’s faces, as person after person gave positive reasons for why they valued Kucirkova’s book. First of all, they found it to be a timely, informative, innovative, practical, well signposted and up-to-date book effectively grounded in the author’s experiences as both practitioner and researcher. The book divides neatly into chapters which in the first half consider how to read, evaluate and use commercially produced digital books to support children’s language and literacies, and in the second half consider the creation of digital books by children with adults. The latter promote the value of storytelling by children and story-making for parents, emphasising process as well as product and offering children, teachers and parents agency and empowerment. In addition, its well organised format and recommendations for further reading were valued, while the way it explains the technology was considered most helpful. Several members of the panel felt it was well suited to all key stages, possibly even a global audience, despite its subtitle limiting it to primary practitioners. Everyone liked the fact that it could reach a wide audience as it is free for online readers. The qualities of Kucirkova’s book cover many of the criteria for this award, especially being based on sound, diverse and inclusive research, making a distinctive contribution to literacy education and encouraging teachers to be reflective, innovative and creative. A clearly, deserving winner. 

UKLA would also like to announce the highly commended, runner-up Developing Culturally and Historically sensitive Teacher Education – Global lessone from a Literacy Education Program, edited  for Bloomsbury Academic by Yolanda Gayol Ramirez, Patricia Rosas Chávez & Peter Smagorinsky.

This volume, with a focus on a literacy education program in Mexico, was highly rated for making a distinctive contribution to teacher education with its innovative stance, international dimension and championing of diversity, human rights and social justice. It too is timely, reflecting contemporary issues, illustrating an ethical research process and making this accessible to an international audience. As an edited collection, it was praised for its clear editorial voice, its strong ethical commitment and its willingness to question orthodoxy. Many members of the judging panel found it inspiring, moving and insightful. 

Finally, UKLA would like to congratulate the following authors and publishers of the other three books which were shortlisted for this award, all of these were esteemed and appreciated: 

Enhancing Digital Literacy and Creativity: Makerspaces in the Early Years, edited by

Alicia Blum-Ross, Kriistina Kumpulainen & Jackie Marsh, published by Routledge;

The Bloomsbury Handbook of Reading Perspectives and Practices, edited by Bethan Marshall, Jacqueline Manuel, Donna Pasternak & Jennifer Rowsell;

Using Graphic Novels in the English Language Arts Classroom by William Boerman-Cornell & Jung Kim, published by Bloomsbury.

It was another very good year for academic publications on many different aspects of literacy.

Chair of Panel: Morag Styles

Panel Members: Helen Bradford, Sarah Brownsword, Christine Lockwood, Penny Manford, Roger McDonald, Elizabeth Ward, Rebecca Simpson-Hargreaves, Sara Stanley

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