The UKLA Book Awards are the only awards to be judged entirely by teachers. The awards are presented to books that are considered to “enhance all aspects of literacy learning”. The judging process ensures teachers are able to share the books with their classes and discover what genuinely works with young readers in each of the three age categories. Judgements are therefore soundly based on pupil response.
For an unprecedented second year in a row the 3-6 category has been won by Morag Hood. She said “I am so honoured that I Am Bat has been chosen as the winner, and to win for the second time is just incredible! What better accolade than from the teachers who know and understand children the most. It fills me with joy to know that my little bat is being used in classrooms and, I hope, helping to encourage a life-long love of reading.”
Equally unprecedented was the fact that the judges, after intense debate, decided to award a Highly Commended in each of the three age categories to books that were very different but equally valuable and too good not to be specially recognised. So the Newbery Medal winning After the Fall by Dan Santat has been Highly Commended in the 3-6 category with S.E Durrant’s Running On Empty in the 7-11 and Carnegie medal winning Elizabeth Acevado’s verse novel The Poet X in the 12-16.
The 2019 awards were presented at a special ceremony on July 12th at the UKLA International Conference, Sheffield Institute of Education, Sheffield Hallam University. Student teachers from 20 universities around the UK take part in Shadowing the awards and read and use the shortlisted books on teaching practice in schools before having their own online vote to select their own winners. Mini Grey‘s The Last Wolf was the 3-6 winner and S.E Durrant’ Running on Empty won the 7-11 student vote too. The National Education Union sponsors student shadowers to attend the conference and they also announced and presented their awards at the ceremony.
10 teachers nominated from the 58 involved in the shortlisting, who came from Midlands region around Sheffield, formed the final judging panel and had the challenging task of reading all the shortlisted books in all three age categories, which meant nursery teachers reading fiction for teenagers and secondary teachers reading picture books.
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.
The Shortlists in full
After the Fall written and illustrated by Dan Santat (Andersen Press)
The Last Wolf written and illustrated by Mini Grey (Jonathan Cape)
Bob’s Blue Period written and illustrated by Marion Deuchars (Laurence King)
Stardust written by Jeanne Willis and illustrated by Briony May Smith (Nosy Crow)
The Big Book of the Blue written and illustrated by Yuval Zommer (Thames & Hudson)
I Am Bat written and illustrated by Morag Hood (Two Hoots)
The Explorer written by Katherine Rundell illustrated by Hannah Horn (Bloomsbury)
Running on Empty written by S. E. Durrant illustrated by Rob Biddulph (Nosy Crow)
Sky Dancer written by Gill Lewis (Oxford)
The Wild Robot written and illustrated by Peter Brown (Piccadilly)
The Murderer’s Ape written and illustrated by Jakob Wegelius. Translated by Peter Graves (Pushkin Press)
Kick written by Mitch Johnson (Usborne Publishing)
Moonrise written by Sarah Crossan (Bloomsbury)
The Poet X written by Elizabeth Acevedo (Egmont Electric Monkey)
Long Way Down written by Jason Reynolds and illustrated by Chris Priestley (Faber)
Piglettes written and translated by Clémentine Beauvais (Pushkin Press)
After the Fire written by Will Hill (Usborne Publishing)
Mary’s Monster: Love, Madness and How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein written and illustrated by Lita Judge (Wren & Rook)