Every year, the UK Literacy Association (UKLA) Book Awards, which is the only national children’s book awards to be judged by teachers, produces a longlist of outstanding titles from picture books to non-fiction.
These are a few of my favourites to be longlisted for primary aged children.
Join the brilliantly passionate and instantly loveable Rocket as she organises a peaceful protest to save her local library, in Speak Up! by Nathan Byron and Dapo Adeola.
Bookworm Rocket loves to collect new books on her weekly visit to the library, and to read all about inspirational figures like Rosa Parks. She is heartbroken when she discovers the library will be closing down! Can she use what she’s learnt from Rosa and speak up to save the day?
This empowering, heartwarming picture book is a love letter to libraries and the power of reading. And it shows the incredible power we ALL have when we find our voice and speak up about the things that matter.
More classic storytelling from the acclaimed author of Sky Hawk and Song of the River, as a shy rat is forced to undergo a perilous quest to return a diamond to its rightful owners, in Moonflight by Gill Lewis and illustrated by Pippa Curnick.
Can a timid rat ever become a hero? Tilbury is about to find out on the adventure of a lifetime, journeying across the sea to the realm of the dreaded White Death, to return a priceless diamond to its rightful owners. A marvellous adventure begins and a truly intrepid hero is born within a magical mix of mirth and mystery with enough of a pinch of peril to keep readers hooked to the end.
The blackbirds’ song uplifts and restores in Birdsong by Katya Balen and illustrated by Richard Johnson.
After a devastating car crash, Annie is unable to play her flute and retreats from the music she’s always loved. She exists in a world of angry silence – furious with her mum and furious she can’t seem to play her beloved flute any more.
Then she meets Noah, who shows her the blackbirds’ nest hidden in the scrubland near their flats. As their friendship grows, the blackbirds’ glorious song reignites Annie’s passion for music. But when tragedy strikes again, will her fragile progress be put at risk?
And finally, from the non-fiction section, Unspoken by Kwame Alexander and Dare Coulter, is a must-read for all children and adults alike from Year 5 up, and the perfect companion to Kwame Alexander’s award-winning picture book The Undefeated.
How do you tell a story that starts in Africa and ends in horror? About strength and pride and refusing to be broken? One that still hurts and still loves?
A powerfully moving, poetic exploration of the story of slavery: from Africa to the tall ships, from back-breaking work in a strange land to resilience and eventual emancipation, Kwame Alexander tells the story that’s hard to hear. Told through the lens of a teacher speaking to their young pupils, and in multiple art styles from award-winning artist and sculptor Dare Coulter, the story of slavery becomes one that you can tell with the bravery to lift your voice. Visually stunning, this is a book that will stay with you for a long time.
The full longlists, including books for secondary school children, can be found on the UKLA website.