The unique UKLA Book Awards are the only awards to be judged entirely by teachers and are looking for texts that can “enhance all aspects of literacy learning”.

Book Awards 2020
  • International winners sweep the board
  • Susin Nielsen joins the ranks of double winners
  • Two wins for Publisher of the Year – Pan Macmillan
  • Remote judging and a virtual ceremony for 2020 awards

@The_UKLA #UKLA20 #teachersbookawards

The unique UKLA Book Awards are the only awards to be judged entirely by teachers and are looking for texts that can “enhance all aspects of literacy learning”.  The 2020 process has also itself been unique with the challenge of the COVID-19 lockdown striking just as the 70 teachers from around Oxford and in Renfrewshire were set to come together to choose their shortlists. The 12 judges, nominated from their number, who had the task of judging all 24 shortlisted books in all four categories to find the winners, 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. Another unique occurrence is the virtual announcement of the 2020 winners  streamed live on the UKLA You Tube Channel and website  from 7pm on Friday 3rd July.

The 2020 shortlists reflected the new award criteria which call for the selection to be from a “wide and inclusive range” of publishers and for books which “recognise a broad range of perspectives, experiences and voices and this has resulted in each of the four categories being won by an international author. The criteria reflect the strategic importance UKLA has given to diversity and inclusion in literacy education and UKLA President Cathy Burnett said ‘We know that literature broadens the reader’s experience and understanding of the world, it also enables children to walk in the shoes of others and to question and explore infinite possibilities. We are proud to be celebrating four truly outstanding international winners in 2020 ‘

The 3-6+ category has been won by Chinese-American author Arree Chung for Mixed, which also had previously won the overall Children’s Book Award prize from the Federation of Children’s Book Groups in 2019. 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.

The 7-10+ category was won by debut American author Alyssa Hollingsworth with The Eleventh Trade. She said “I am so honoured that The Eleventh Trade has been chosen for the UKLA Award for 7-10+. Sami’s story is about the power of community to spread hope, and I’m deeply moved by the number of readers who have joined him on his journey.” Judges admired the light touch and sensitive handling of the horrors that refugee Sami fled from and helping children understand the barriers he faces in a “safe” country.

Canadian author Susin Nielsen chalked up a second UKLA award in the 11-14+ category for No Fixed Address, which judges valued for the way it humanised the hard-hitting subject of homelessness. She had previously won with The Secret Diary of Henry K Larson in 2017. Susin said “I am over the moon at this honour! I feel like I’ve always had a special connection with the UK, and it tickles me to no end that my novels seem to “travel well” to your neck of the woods. And speaking of travel, I also long for the day when I can come for a visit again … and possibly celebrate this lovely award in person. A huge thanks to all of the teachers, librarians, students and others for all of your hard work – awards like this have a huge impact, not just for authors but also for readers – another way to get kids excited about books!” 

Newly crowned Publisher of the Year, Pan Macmillan, claimed a second UKLA award this year with Counting on Katherine by another Canadian author, Helaine Becker, winning the new Information Books category with a biography of Katherine Johnson. This 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. But the overall quality of the shortlist had made this a difficult choice for the judges and it was decided to award Highly Commended as well as an overall winner. The judges felt that Child of St Kilda by debut British author and illustrator Beth Waters deserved recognition for the wonderfully illustrated, poignant and topical story of a threatened community and lost way of life. The UKLA is particularly grateful to the family of former President, Bobbie Neate, for her bequest which funded the inauguration of the new Information Book Award.

To watch the video announcing our winners, click here:

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 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 McLaren, Director of Lovereading4kids said: “What another beautiful selection of winning books. Some of our absolute faves of the year; the UKLA committees and teacher judges have done a wonderful job of curating a stunning selection of quality texts and great reads to engage every age range. LoveReading4Kids and LoveReading4Schools are delighted to again partner with the UKLA to help encourage reading for pleasure and engender a lifelong love of reading in children

Once again student teachers from universities around the UK have been taking part in Shadowing the awards and as a result of the COVID- 19 challenges this was also opened to schools and teachers across the UK. Normally Shadowers would read and use the shortlisted books in schools before having their own online vote to select their own winners and this year the Shadowing period has been extended into the Autumn term to allow this opportunity. If permitted the Shadowing winners are to be announced at a celebration of the 2020 Book Awards for shortlisted  and winning authors and illustrators in Oxford on 28th November 2020. 

About the Winning Books

The winning book in the 11-14+ category is No Fixed Address by Susin Nielsen. Published by Andersen Press

Felix Knutsson is nearly thirteen, lives with his mother and pet gerbil Horatio, and is brilliant at memorising facts and trivia. So far, pretty normal. But Felix and his mom Astrid have a secret: they are living in a van. Astrid promises it’s only for a while until she finds a new job, and begs Felix not to breathe a word about it. So when Felix starts at a new school, he does his very best to hide the fact that most of his clothes are in storage, he only showers weekly at the community centre, and that he doesn’t have enough to eat. When his friends Dylan and Winnie ask to visit, Felix always has an excuse. 

The winning book in the 7-10+ category is The Eleventh Trade by Alyssa Hollingsworth. Published by Piccadilly Press

When his grandfather’s most-prized possession–a traditional Afghan instrument called a rebab–is stolen, Sami resolves to get it back. He finds it at a music store, but it costs $700, and Sami doesn’t have even one penny. What he does have is a keychain that has caught the eye of his classmate. If he trades the keychain for something more valuable, could he keep trading until he has $700?. It’s only going to be possible if Sami is prepared to accept help.

The winning book for the 3 to 6+ category is Mixed written and illustrated by Arree Chung. Published by Macmillan

A tale of difference and acceptance. The Blues, Reds and Yellows lived in harmony. Reds were the loudest, Yellows the brightest and Blues were the coolest. However, when one of the colours proclaims, they are the best, discord breaks out and eventually the colours decide to live in different parts of the city. Then one day a Yellow befriends a Blue and they become inseparable, discovering a world of different possibilities and colours.

The winning book in the Information Books 3-14+ category is Counting on Katherine written by Helaine Becker and illustrated by Dow Phumiruk. Published by Macmillan

This is the inspirational, true story of Katherine Johnson – the mathematical genius who saved Apollo 13 and ensured the astronauts returned home when the mission was in critical danger. Accompanied by beautiful illustrations throughout, this book is the perfect introduction to the trailblazing African-American who defied the boundaries of race and gender 

Highly Commended in the Information Books 3-14+ category is Child of St Kilda written and illustrated by Beth Waters. Published by Childs Play

Norman John Gillies was one of the last children ever born on St Kilda, five years before the whole population was evacuated forever to the British mainland. People had lived on these islands for over four thousand years, developing a thriving, tightly-knit society that knew nothing of crime or money, and took care of its weakest members without hesitation. At the mercy of the seasons and the elements, a unique lifestyle evolved, based around resilience, mutual trust and caring. 

The Shortlists in full


Mixed  written and illustrated by Arree Chung (Macmillan)

The Suitcase   written and illustrated by Chris Naylor-Ballesteros (Nosy Crow)

Lubna and Pebble written by Wendy Meddour illustrated by Daniel Egnéus (OUP)

Julian is a Mermaid written and illustrated by Jessica Love (Walker Books)

If All the World Were.. written by Joseph Coelho illustrated by Allison Colpoys (Frances Lincoln)

The Visitor written and illustrated by Antje Damm translated by Sally-Anne Spencer (Gecko Press)


Slick written by M.M.Vaughan ( Alma Books)

The Eleventh Trade written by Alyssa Hollingsworth (Piccadilly Press)

Race to the Frozen North written by Catherine Johnson, illustrated by Katie Hickie (Barrington Stoke)

The Legend of Kevin written and illustrated by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre (OUP)

The Middler written by Kirsty Applebaum (Nosy Crow)

Armistice Runner written by  Tom Palmer (Barrington Stoke)


No Fixed Address written by Susin Nielsen (Andersen Press)

Toffee written by Sarah Crossan (Bloomsbury)

Catching Teller Crow  written by Ambelin and Ezekiel Kwaymullin (Penguin)

Lenny’s Book of Everything written by Karen Foxlee (Pushkin Press)

The Skylarks’ War written by Hilary McKay (Macmillan)

Pay Attention Carter Jones written by Gary D. Schmidt (Andersen Press)

Information Books 3-14+

Mary and Frankenstein written by    Linda Bailey and illustrated by Jũlia Sardὰ, (Andersen Press)

A Book of Bears written and illustrated by    Katie Viggers (Laurence King)

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

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

Questions I am asked about the Holocaust  written by Heidi Fried (Scribe)

Once Upon a Raindrop written by James Carter and illustrated by Nomoco (Caterpillar Books)

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 Capita Reading Cloud

Sponsors Capita Reading Cloud have over 30 years’ experience providing innovative software for schools and colleges. Today they support thousands of schools worldwide with managing their libraries, engaging their students and promoting reading for pleasure.

Reading Cloud provides all the features and functionality needed for day to day school library management as well as a safe online student engagement community and a new innovative literacy tool to ensure all students are able to develop long lasting positive attitudes to reading. To find out more visit

About LoveReading4Schools and LoveReading4Kids

We all know that reading is fundamental to the development of children. Countless research shows the links between good reading skills from an early age and future success in life. However we also know it can be hard to get children really excited by books given the many other exciting leisure time activities fighting for their attention.

Finding books to inspire children or finding authors that excite them, can be difficult; the choice is daunting and guidance rather thin on the ground. That’s where LoveReading4Kids and its sister site LoveReading4Schools can help.

LoveReading4Kids is the UK’s biggest and best recommendation site for children’s books. Their passion for children’s books ranges from toddlers to teens and ensures that whatever the age, whatever the interest, that they provide a steady stream of brilliant book recommendations for every child. 

Unique features and services help parents and anyone who likes to buy books for children choose the best books for boys and girls of all ages … and best of all, it is free to use.  You can

•           Download and print off the opening extract of over 10,000 children’s books.

•           Read exclusive online book reviews by children’s book experts including Julia Eccleshare (author and ex-children’s books editor at the Guardian).

•           Explore reviews by members of our children’s reader review panel.

•           Dive into the Kids Zone, an area designed specifically for children, with competitions, quizzes and additional book related content. 

At LoveReading it’s all about sharing book love and LoveReading4Schools is a critical part of this and one we take very seriously. As a community we believe we have a social responsibility to support time-strapped teachers and librarians in schools to help engender a lifelong love of reading in their students.

The site has tons of functionality to encourage a reading for pleasure culture in schools and homes across the country. The website offers schools an easy, impartial and free way to create and share either our recommended reading lists or the school’s own tailored lists with their parents and pupils, offering age appropriate books as well as themed collections of titles. This includes a fully updated set of reading recommendation lists for every year group from Early Years to Year 11. 

There are also specialist categories for Reluctant and Dyslexic Readers that can make a real difference to those who struggle with their reading.

This March the LoveReading team launched this year’s LoveReading4Kids #PoetryPrize with an extra-special poetry workshop by award-winning poet Joshua Seigal. If you have a creative 7-11 year old or a class of aspiring poets, find out more about this year’s prize

Visit the websites, LoveReading4Kids and

Past Winners



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


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)


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

Highly Commended

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


 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)


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 by Brian Selznick ( Scholastic)


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

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

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

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

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


3-6: The Day the Crayons Quit, Drew Daywalt , Oliver Jeffers (illustrator)( HarperCollins

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

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

12-16: Every Day by David Levithan, published by Egmont


3-6:  This is not my Hat, Jon Klassen (Walker Books)

Highly Commended 3-6 Award: Open Very Carefully, Nick Bromley, Nicola O’Byrne (Illustrator), (Nosy Crow)

7- 11: The Story of the Blue Planet, Andri Snær Magnason, Julian Meldon D’Arcy, (translator), Áslaug Jónsdóttir (Illustrator), (Pushkin Press)

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


3 – 6: Good Little Wolf, Nadia Shireen Rayner (Jonathan Cape)

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

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


3 – 6: Iris and Isaac, Catherine Rayner (Little Tiger Press)

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

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


3-11:   Birdsong, Ellie Sandall (Egmont)

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


3-11:  Then, Morris Gleitzman (Puffin) 

12-16: The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell (illustrator) (Bloomsbury)

Special commendation: Tales from Outer Suburbia, Shaun Tan, (Templar)


3-11: Archie’s War, Marcia Williams (Walker)

Highly commended 3-11: The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Brian Selznick  (Scholastic)

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


Picture book category: Penguin, Polly Dunbar (Walker )

Here lies Arthur, Philip Reeve, (Scholastic)

Full details of the Awards and the winners (from 7.00pm on 3rd July), can be found here:

For further information please contact:

Chris Lockwood


Room 9

c/o VAL

9 Newarke Street



Telephone number: 0116 254 4116


Twitter:  @The_UKLA

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