In a fitting celebration of National Non-Fiction November, the winners of this year’s SLA Information Book Award were announced last week at a ceremony held at the central London offices of award sponsors Hachette Children’s Group.
Now in its 13th year, the Information Book Award was established to highlight the important role of non-fiction as part of young people’s reading experience and to celebrate the high standard of information books for young people. There are three award categories: Ages 7 and under, Ages 8 to 12, and Ages 13 to 16.
A panel of judges made up of educators choose the winners for each of the three age categories. From these, an Overall Winner is crowned. However, young people also have the opportunity to have their say by voting in the Children’s Choice Award. This year, unlike last, judges and pupils voted for different winners in every category.
For their Overall Winner, this year’s adult judges chose ABC Pride by Dr Elly Barnes and Louie Stowell, illustrated by Amy Phelps (DK Children’s Books).
On receiving her award, Dr Elly Barnes, co-author of ABC Pride, said: ‘This is a big win in the current climate. A huge thank you to the team and to everyone who is actively creating welcoming places where all can flourish and be themselves.’
In the Children’s Choice Award, The Big Book of Mysteries, written by Tom Adams and illustrated by Yas Imamura (Nosy Crow) was the title that most impressed younger readers to be crowned their Overall Winner.
Tom Adams, author of The Big Book of Mysteries, said: ‘It’s clear from this collection of books, and many more published this year that didn’t make it to the shortlist, that children’s non-fiction is an exciting and innovative place to be. The range of titles and styles is huge which is key as these books fill a different kind of gap to fiction. They are a really important way of discovering ourselves and the world around us. So with all that in mind it’s a real honour to have The Big Book of Mysteries acknowledged in this way by the people who are dealing directly with the readers, school librarians.’
To be crowned the Overall Winner, both ABC Pride and The Big Book of Mysteries had first to win their respective age categories.
Judges’ Choice Category Winners
Ages 7 and under: ABC Pride by Dr Elly Barnes and Louie Stowell, illustrated by Amy Phelps (DK Children’s Books).
Ages 8 to 12: A World Full of Journeys and Migrations by Martin Howard, illustrated by Christopher Corr (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books)
Ages 13 to 16: Medicine: A Magnificently Illustrated History, written by Briony Hudson and illustrated by Nick Taylor (Big Picture Press)
Children’s Choice Category Winners
Ages 7 and under: Do Bears Poop in the Woods?, written by Huw Lewis Jones and illustrated by Sam Caldwell (Thames & Hudson)
Ages 8 to 12: The Big Book of Mysteries, written by Tom Adams and illustrated by Yas Imamura (Nosy Crow)
Ages 13 to 16: An Illustrated History of Ghosts, written and illustrated by Adam Allsuch Boardman (Nobrow)
The Children’s Choice Award saw its largest ever vote this year with school librarians commenting on how much their pupils enjoyed being part of the judging process.
Alison Tarrant, CEO of the School Library Association added, ‘Pupils’ engagement with the Children’s Choice clearly shows that information books are a vibrant and appealing form of reading for children. The pupils had firm opinions about their favourites, as did the judges, and the fact there was no agreement at all this year, in a change from last year, shows just how important it is to represent the voices of both pupils and their educators.
‘It’s clear that information books play a key role in children reading for pleasure and I urge any schools thinking of ditching their non-fiction titles in favour of the internet, to reconsider and fully address the impact that reducing choice and breadth of reading material can have on reading journeys.’
The SLA has produced free resources that schools can use to explore all the books on this year’s shortlist. To find out more about the Information Book Award and how your pupils can get involved with the Children’s Choice next year, click here.