UKLA BOOK AWARDS 2023

UKLA-Book-Awards 2023

SHORTLISTS ANNOUNCED FOR THE UKLA BOOK AWARDS 2023

  • A unique double shortlisting for past winner Manjeet Mann
  • Canadian author Susin Nielsen could be the first to win a category three times
  • Another UKLA and Carnegie shortlisting double for Katya Balen
  • Small imprint Flying Eye Books the top performing publisher 

@The_UKLA  #UKLA23  #UKLAbookawards

The UKLA Book Awards are the only UK children’s book awards judged entirely by teachers. As Shirley Young, one of the 87 teacher judges involved in this initial judging of these unique awards put it, the “amazing” process really made her reflect “on the place of reading in the curriculum and what a huge difference the right book can make.” The rightbook is defined by the criteria as being from a “wide and inclusive range” of publishers and will “recognise a broad range of perspectives, experiences and voices”. This range and quality is certainly demonstrated in all the four shortlists the teacher judges selected in a day of impassioned debate. In lists which are devoid of any commercial influence, it is notable that once again it is small, independent publishers such as Andersen Press, Flying Eye, Firefly, Faber, Troika and Scribble who dominate the lists with Flying Eye doing particularly well with three of their titles shortlisted across two categories.

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 Chris Lockwood, Awards Chair said, “Despite the challenges schools have been facing this year, it was a delight to see the energy, skill, knowledge and enthusiasm our teacher judges and their book group leaders brought to the task of finding their six favourite books from such wonderful and diverse longlists.”

In the 3-6+ age category we have a former Children’s Laureate and a Costa winning author, best known for their teenage fiction, succeeding with their picturebooks too!  Manjeet Mann makes the first of two appearances this year with the lyrical, empowering Small’s Big Dream, about the importance of dreaming big and discovering that when you do, anything can happen. Malorie Blackman teams up with Dapo Adeola in We’re Going to Find a Monster. Full of funny, relatable characters, this is a contemporary celebration of creativity, fantasy and family. They are joined by Joe Todd Stanton – also currently shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal for Illustration for The Comet where the luminous, beautiful illustrations evoke a small child’s distress about the bewildering experience of moving house. Both Flooded,a striking debut from Mariajo Ilustrajo and Saving Mr Hoot by Helen Stephens, emphasise the importance of working together to achieve change.  The final book in this category is Who are you? by Smriti Halls, which celebrates and prompts lots of discussion about what makes each of us special.

The 7-10+ category features a repeat of Katya Balen’s extraordinary achievement of being shortlisted for both the Carnegie medal for Writing and the UKLA 7-10+, this time with The Light in Everything, which could produce another double win as she did with October, October in 2022There will be stiff competition, however, from the likes of acclaimed authors such as Ross Montgomery, here shortlisted with The Chime Seekers, a trademark magical fantasy quest to restore an abducted baby sister, and Onjali Q Raúf with The Lion Above the Door, exploring themes of historical racism in a wonderful story about family and identity, fitting in and having the courage to stand out. Joining them in this hotly contested category are acclaimed poet Cora Rumble with her first verse novel Little Light that tells the sensitive and empathetic story of Ava, a young girl at the end of primary school as she faces challenging circumstances; Eve Ainsworth whose All to Play For is an accessible story of one boy’s love for football and the family grief which separates him from it, and Holly Goldberg Sloan’s The Elephant in the Room, an emotional and heart-warming read about unwavering family love, the power of friendship and the bonds between humans and animals.

 In the 11-14+ category, past winner Manjeet Mann’s second UKLA shortlisting this year is for The Crossing, the stunning verse novel which won The Costa Children’s Book Award and was also previously shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal for Writing and is a profound story of hope, grief, and the very real tragedies of the refugee crisis. Competing for the prize are Susin Nielsen, who has won this category twice before, with her brilliantly constructed, compassionate and hilarious coming of age story, Tremendous Things, and award-winning Welsh author Manon Steffan Ros. The Blue Book of Nebo, translated by the author, is also on the current Carnegie shortlist and is a tender and brutal post-apocalyptic novel about a mother and son trying to survive. The second success for Andersen Press in this category is Jeff Zentner’s In The Wild Light a beautiful, moving story about family in all its forms, a theme echoed in Sue Divin’s powerfully authentic Truth Be Told, where two teens across the sectarian divide discover the truth of their family history. A rare appearance of a beautifully illustrated novel completes this category. Julia and The Shark by Kiran Millwood Hargrave and Tom de Freston has illustrations in monochrome and yellow that effectively complement the poetic language in a deeply moving story of a mother and daughter relationship with powerful themes about mental health, the environment, and the importance of science.

 Judges of the category of Information Books 3- 14+ commented that it had “opened our eyes to the rich and varied world of information books and the diverse themes and topics they explore.”  The judges’ selections span a range of subjects from the heartfelt, engagingly written history of being Black and British since Windrush in Musical Truth by Jeffrey Boakye; to a clear pocket sized guide to everything that LGBTQ+ teenage girls need to know in Here and Queer by Rowan Ellis; to the history of the Earth as told by a friendly theatre troop of insects in Mini Grey’s innovative The Greatest Show on Earth and a cinematic journey through the Seoul subway that masterfully portrays the many unique lives we travel alongside whenever we take the  train  in  I am the Subway by Kim Hyo-eun, a poetic translation by Deborah Smith of the bestselling Korean picture book.  Flying Eye Books has a double shortlisting in this category making them the most successful publisher overall. Amazon River by Sangmar Francis is a spectacularly illustrated, by Rômolo D’Hipólito, look at the largest river on earth, showing how it impacts the lives of wild animals and diverse human communities and Bandoola: The Great Elephant Rescue, by the award-winning author illustrator William Grill, shows his trademark passion for his subject and the depth of his research into the true story of Bandoola and James Howard Williams.   

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: “The UKLA Awards have done it again. What a celebration of reading for pleasure these Awards are. What a stunning selection of books for children. The only national awards to be judged entirely by teachers, the UKLA Awards are a special thing, with the added bonus that practitioners can see and appreciate first-hand the impact these beautiful books have on their audience – the children themselves in their classrooms. Congratulations to all of the shortlisted authors and illustrators, it was an impressive longlist so it’s a great achievement to get this far. We can’t wait to see who the winners are!”

Sue Polchow, Library Advisor 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 87 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 Exeter on June 23rd.

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+                             

Saving Mr Hoot written and illustrated by Helen Stephens (Alison Green)

Who are you? written by Smriti Halls and illustrated by Ali Pye (Farshore)

The Comet written and illustrated by Joe Todd- Stanton (Flying Eye)

Flooded written and illustrated by Mariajo Ilustrajo (Frances Lincoln)

Small’s Big Dream written by Manjeet Mann and illustrated by Amanda Quartey (Harper Collins)

We’re Going to Find a Monster written by Malorie Blackman and illustrated by Dapo Adeola (Puffin)

7-10+                           

All to Play For written by Eve Ainsworth and illustrated by Kirsty Beautyman (Barrington Stoke)

The Light in Everything written by Katya Balen   (Bloomsbury)

The Lion Above the Door written by Onjali Q Raúf (Orion)

The Elephant in the Room written by Holly Goldberg Sloan (Piccadilly)

Little Light written by Coral Rumble(Troika)

The Chime Seekers written by Ross Montgomery (Walker)

11-14+                          

Tremendous Things written by Susin Nielsen (Andersen)

In the Wild Light written by Jeff Zentner (Andersen)

The Blue Book of Nebo written by Manon Steffan Ros (Firefly)

Truth Be Told written by Sue Divin (Macmillan)

Julia and the Shark written by Kiran Millwood Hargrave and illustrated by Tom de Freston (Orion)

The Crossing written by Manjeet Mann (Penguin)

Info 3-14+                                 

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

Amazon River written by Sangma Francis illustrated by Rômolo D’Hipólito (Flying Eye)

Bandoola: The Great Elephant Rescue written and illustrated by William Grill (Flying Eye)

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

The Greatest Show on Earth written and illustrated by Mini Grey (Puffin)

I am the Subway written and illustrated by Kim Hyo-eun. Translated by Deborah Smith (Scribble)

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

Reading Cloud provides the tools you need to build a healthy whole school reading culture where children develop lasting positive attitudes to reading.

Reading Cloud are delighted to be sponsoring the UKLA Book Awards, which celebrate children’s literature in educational settings to enhance learning and promote reading for pleasure.

For a long time, it’s been widely acknowledged that a child’s future academic, professional, and personal achievement are linked to strong literacy skills and that reading supports success in every subject across the wider curriculum.

Yet, with only 1 in 2 children saying that they enjoy reading and less than a third reading on a regular basis (National Literacy Trust, 2022), it is clear that promoting reading in the school setting with access to quality children’s reading materials is the key to enhancing learning and promoting reading for pleasure.

At Reading Cloud, we firmly believe in the transformative power of the school library to develop a reading culture, fundamental in building the core literacy and research skills needed for academic attainment whilst also nurturing a lifelong love of reading.

Our long-standing partnership with the UKLA has seen us sponsor these awards for some ten years and it is always a pleasure to see how the awards inspire and motivate teachers to explore new texts and bring more diverse literature into the classroom.

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

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+

Mixed written and illustrated by Arree Chung (Macmillan)

7-10+

The Eleventh Trade written by Alyssa Hollingsworth (Piccadilly Press)

11- 14+

No Fixed Address written by Susin Nielsen (Andersen Press)

Information Books 3-14+

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

Highly Commended

A Child of St.  Kilda written 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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