25 September 2021 Share
In a welcome return to normality, the selection panels (composed of experienced past teacher judges, ex-teachers, librarians and consultants), were able to meet and deliberate in person, with, in the majority of cases, the physical book in front of them. Their summer reading challenge had been to read the combined total of 496 submissions, across the four categories of these awards, which are the only national awards judged by active classroom teachers.
Awards Chair, Christine Lockwood, said “This is always an exciting but difficult job. The longlisting team were challenged to select from a very rich and varied list of submissions this year and they have come up with four sparkling longlists. It was a joy to meet the majority of our committed, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic longlisters in person, this year, after eighteen months of working on the Book Awards via digital platforms and I would like to thank them for their hard work over the summer. The longlists will now pass to our teams of teacher judges and their group leaders in Birmingham and the West Midlands, and I can't wait to share these books with them over the next year."
The lists exemplify the award criteria’s aim of encouraging teachers’ knowledge of high-quality children’s books, that can reflect all identities and promote diversity. They highlight a diverse range of international and UK based authors from exciting debuts to prize-winners and best-sellers. Once again, we see a dominance across all the categories of small publishing houses like Old Barn Books, Tate Publishing, bsmall publishing, Otter Barry Books, Scallywag Press, Guppy Books, Lantana, Knights Of, Pushkin, Everything With Words, Scribe, Firefly Press and the first appearance of international publishers, Greystone and Sunbird. Of particular note is a strong showing for graphic novels in both the fiction categories and for books in translation, with titles from Gecko and Book Island.
This year there are 94 judges in total covering the four categories and they have until mid-March to read the longlisted books, discuss them with their group leaders, and share them with pupils. All the groups will then meet, hopefully in person, for the difficult task of choosing their shortlist of 6 books in each category. Headteachers welcomed the opportunity to receive new books for their schools and for their teachers to widen their knowledge of recent children’s titles. 36 schools in total will be impacted by this injection of quality texts to inspire learning and reading for pleasure.
For UKLA, giving classroom practitioners the opportunity to read a number of 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.
UKLA are grateful for the continued support of the award sponsors, which help the awards to grow and develop each year. Reading Cloud, Lovereading4schools and Lovereading4kids, recognise the value of the judging experience for schools and teachers.
For more information and to view the longlist, visit: www.ukla.org/awards/ukla-book-award