Picking the winners of the Children’s Book Awards

Children read in their school library in east London.
Children read in their school library in east London.

By Melissa Smith, Head of Born to Read

I recently had the honour of sitting on the judging panel for the Sainsbury’s Children’s Book Awards. The shortlisted books were fantastic and choosing my favourites wasn’t easy.

What I looked out for

In my role at Save the Children, I oversee our UK literacy programmes. And so when judging the books, I put myself in the shoes of the children we work with.

For me, the winners were the books that nurtured a child’s vocabulary, language and speech, as well as helped with their cognitive learning and emotional development.

And naturally, I looked out for books that had an engaging story and would appeal to both children and adults.

Reading is vital

As we all know, reading is key to a child’s future – it unlocks their potential and opens up a world filled with possibilities.

Reading enables children to make the most of their education, to get good exam results and to do better in the workplace as adults. And for the UK’s poorest children, reading can offer a route out of poverty.

But every year, around 120,000 children in England – including nearly 40% of children from poorer backgrounds – leave primary school not reading as well as they should.

If we don’t act now, we’re on track to leave around 1.5 million children behind by 2025. There’s a lot to do.

Looking to the future

That’s why we’re working to improve children’s literacy through our Born to Read partnership with children’s literacy charity Beanstalk, and through our national reading campaign Read On. Get On.

We have also been lucky enough to receive 80,000 children’s books from Sainsburys. We’ve identified areas in the UK where these books will make the world of difference and will be delivering them to schools, libraries, children’s centres and hospitals.

Books are such an invaluable resource to give young children the chance of a better future.

As for the books that won the Sainsburys awards, I know that they are ones that can be read and enjoyed over and over again.

For me, they go above and beyond what the judging panel was looking for.

The winners in each category

Baby and Toddler:

Baby’s Very First Slide & See Animals by Fiona Watt (Author), Stella Baggott (Illustrator)

Picture Books:

Grandad’s Island by Benji Davies

Fiction 5-9:

The 13 Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths (Author), Terry Denton (Illustrator)

Fiction 9+:

Hamish and the Worldstoppers by Danny Wallace (Author), Jamie Littler (Illustrator)

Sainsbury’s Children’s Book Awards

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