Book & poetry awards

Awards act as a simple, handy navigation tool for librarians – guiding them through the maze of titles that are produced for children every year and pointing out the key ones, just as reviews do. So here is a roundup of as many of the UK’s national children’s book awards as we can think of – plus we have thrown in a few international awards too – but just the ones that UK authors are eligible for!

ALCS Educational Writers’ Award

This award celebrates the best of non-fiction that stimulates or enhances learning. The award is given in rotation every year – one year to the 5-11 age group category, and the next year to the 11-18 age group category.

ASE Book of the Year Award

Launched for the first time in 2016 this award has been designed to celebrate science writing that educates and inspires science learners of all ages. It also aims to raise the profile of science publishing and showcase the best authors.

The Alligator’s Mouth Award

This award was launched in 2018 by the Richmond based children’s bookshop, ‘The Alligator’s Mouth’, in partnership with illustration and literary agency, The Bright Agency, to celebrate the best young, illustrated children’s fiction published in the UK for readers aged 6-8. “These books are often unnoticed or underappreciated by other awards but offer a wonderful format for storytelling which not only beautifully marries art and text, but also acts as a crucial bridge in children’s reading journey as they progress from picture books to fiction.”

Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award

Astrid Lindgren was one of Sweden’s most important authors. She died in 2002 at the age of 94, and to honour her memory and to promote interest in children’s and young adult literature around the world, the Swedish government founded an international award in her name. It is the world’s largest award for children’s and young adult literature rewarding one or several laureates annually regardless of language or nationality. Authors, illustrators, storytellers and reading promoters are all eligible. The first award was made to Maurice Sendak in 2003. British winners of the award are Philip Pullman (2005) and Meg Rosoff (2016).

BAMB Readers Awards see Books Are My Bag Readers Awards

The Biennial of Illustration Bratislava (BIB) Awards

First granted in 1967 to Yasuo Segawa (Japan),these are one of the oldest awards for children’s book illustrators.  From the very beginning, BIB has been held under the auspices of UNESCO and the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) with the support of the Ministry of Culture, Slovakia. Winners are selected by an international jury. Each country can enter a maximum of 15 participants who then submit up to 10 illustrations from up to two books. There are 11 awards in total, with a grand prize presented for unique and outstanding illustration. The UK nominating bodies for this award are IBBY UK and The International Centre for the Picture Book in Society (ICPBS), based at Worcester University.

Blue Peter Book Awards

This award was established in 2000. Winners are short listed by a panel of adult judges; then a group of young Blue Peter viewers judge the three categories:

  • Book I Couldn’t Put Down
  • Best Book with Facts
  • Most Fun Story with Pictures

The winners of these categories then compete for the accolade “Blue Peter Book of the Year”. 

Book Trust Lifetime Achievement Award

This award is given to a children’s writer or illustrator whose body of work, in the opinion of a panel of judges, merits recognition for a lifetime’s achievement in children’s literature.

Book Trust Storytime Prize

Launched in 2019 this prize celebrates and promotes the best books for sharing with young children – books that have a wide and diverse appeal to parents and carers and stories which can be read and enjoyed over and over again. A shortlist of six books is announced in May and over the summer holidays, they will be shared with children, carers and families by public librarians from each of the nine English regions (organised in partnership with the Youth Library Group), along with Wales and Northern Ireland, to find the best book for sharing, which will then be announced in November.

Books Are My Bag Readers’ Awards

These are the only book awards curated by bookshops and voted for by book lovers. Out of the eight or so categories two relate to children’s books – Young Readers: Middle Grade and Young Readers: YA

Branford Boase Award

This award celebrates the most promising book for seven year-olds and upwards by a first-time novelist. The author may have published books before in another genre but this must be his/her first attempt at a children’s novel.

British Book Awards

The British Book Awards or ‘Nibbies’ honours and celebrates the commercial successes of publishers, authors and bookshops. The awards have had several previous names, owners and sponsors since being launched in 1990, including the National Book Awards from 2010-2014. Alongside trade accolades such as ‘publisher of the year’ and ‘book retailer of the year’, The British Book Awards announces seven individual Books of the Year and one of the categories happens to be Children’s.

CILIP Carnegie Medal

This medal is awarded by children’s librarians for an outstanding book for children and young people. Short lists are available in April for Shadowing.

CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal

The Kate Greenaway Medal was established by The Library Association in 1955, for distinguished illustration in a book for children. It is named after the popular nineteenth century artist known for her fine children’s illustrations and designs. Shortlists are available in April for Shadowing.

*On 23 October 2015 CILIP and Amnesty International UK announced a major new partnership. The two organisations will supplement the long-standing Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals with a new commendation: the Amnesty CILIP Honour. In essence, Amnesty’s judging panel will award the honour to one book from each of the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway shortlists. The books they commend will be those that they believe most distinctively illuminate, communicate or celebrate human rights – which in essence are freedom, truth, justice and fairness. The Honour was awarded for the first time in 2016.

The Children’s Book Award

The Children’s Book Award (previously known as the Red House Children’s Book Award during the 14 years of The Book People’s sponsorship)  is the only national award for children’s books that is voted for entirely by children themselves. This prize is awarded annually in three categories – Books for Younger Children, Younger Readers and Older Readers.

CLiPPA (Centre for Literacy in Primary Poetry Award).

Launched in 2003 this is the only award for published poetry for children. The award highlights this important branch of children’s literature, ensuring that it receives proper recognition. The award is presented annually for a book of poetry published in the preceding year.

Costa Book Awards – (Children’s category)

The Costa Book Awards started life in 1971 as the Whitbread Literary Awards. From 1985 they were known as the Whitbread Book Awards until 2006, when Costa Coffee took over ownership. One of the 5 categories awarded is for Children’s Books.

Crime Fest Awards

Crime Fest has six categories in all but only two relate to children’s novels – Best Crime Novel for Children (aged 8-12) and Best Crime Novel for Young Adults (aged 12-16)

Diverse Book Awards

Launched in 2020 this award aims to celebrate any fiction title (traditionally or self published) that focuses on inclusion and diversity. There are 3 categories – children’s, YA and adult.

Edward Stanford Children’s Travel Book of the Year

Launched in 2105 the Edward Stanford Travel Writing Award celebrates the best travel writing and travel writers in the world. The award is named after Edward Stanford who established his map-making business in the heart of London in 1853 at the height of the British Empire and whose maps fueled a passion for adventure, exploration and foreign travel, which in turn led to an explosion in travel writing. The award has several categories, one of which covers children’s books

Eleanor Farjeon Award

This award was established in memory of Eleanor Farjeon (1881-1965) on her death by the Children’s Book Circle. It recognises an outstanding contribution to the world of children’s books by an individual or organisation. Librarians, authors, publishers, teachers, reviewers and others who have given exceptional service to the industry are all eligible for the award.

The English 4-11 Best Children’s Picture Book Award

This award was established in 1995, the awards are presented to the best children’s illustrated books of the year. The winning books are chosen by the editorial board of English 4-11, the journal for primary teachers published by the English Association and the United Kingdom Literacy Association, from a shortlist of 12-18 books selected by a panel of teachers.

Excelsior Award

Originally called the Stan Lee Excelsior Award, this is the only nationwide book award for graphic novels and manga. Its main aim is to encourage the reading and raise the profile of graphic novels and manga amongst school librarians and teachers as this storytelling medium has been a largely underused resource within education for many years.  The books are chosen for their quality, popularity and variety of genre and artistic styles. Originally there was just a Senior and Junior version of the award but in 2019 The Excelsior Award was split up into four separate shortlists to cover the four different key stages

  • Excelsior Award White, for students aged 9 and over (Key Stage 2)
  • Excelsior Award Blue, for students aged 11 and over (Key Stage 3)
  • Excelsior Award Red, for students aged 14 and over (Key Stage 4)
  • Excelsior Award Black, for students aged 16 and over (Sixth Form)

Each shortlist consists of five books (graphic novels and/or manga) that will cost no more than £65. There is also a registration fee of £25 for each school.

Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize (has not been awarded since 2016)

Founded in 1967 this prize had a tradition of finding new voices in children’s fiction before the rest of the world was aware of them! It was the only children’s book award judged by children’s authors

Hans Christian Andersen Awards

The Hans Christian Andersen Award is the highest international recognition given to an author and an illustrator of children’s books. Given every other year by IBBY, the Hans Christian Andersen Awards recognize lifelong achievement and are presented to an author and an illustrator whose complete works have made an important, lasting contribution to children’s literature. The Author’s Award has been given since 1956 and the Illustrator’s Award since 1966. Recent UK winners include Anthony Browne (2000) and Quentin Blake (2002) for illustration, and Aidan Chambers (2002) and David Almond (2010) for writing.

IBBY Honour List

Established in 1956 this is a biennial selection of outstanding, recently published books, honouring writers, illustrators and translators from IBBY member countries. The UK selects books for inclusion in the Honour List that explore issues relevant to IBBY’s overall aims. There are three cataegories – writing, illustration and translation. IBBY UK organises a touring exhibition of the Illustration section of the Honour List every two years to showcase the best in children’s publishing across the world.

In Other Words

An initiative launched by Book Trust in 2017 to encourage the translation and UK publication of outstanding children’s literature from around the world, but it only ran for two years and ceased in 2018. Although the award does not exist anymore In Other Words continues to support UK publishers find and acquire children’s books in translation, as well as to help international publishers pitch their books to English language editors.

Indie Bookshop Week (IBW) – Book Award

Voted for by independent booksellers there are three categories – adult, children and picture book

Jhalak Children’s & YA Prize

Launched in 2020 this prize seeks to celebrate books written for young readers by British BAME authors. Entries can be in the form of picture books, chapter books, graphic novels, poetry, non-fiction, and all other genres. The prize is also open to self-published writers. The aim is the find the best writers of colour in the country.

Klaus Flugge Prize

Established in 2016 in honour of Klaus Flugge, a long-serving figure in publishing and the founder of Andersen Press.  Klaus Flugge was  particularly influential as a publisher in the world of picture books and discovered and nurtured many of today’s most distinguished illustrators including Chris Riddell, Tony Ross, and David McKee. So fittingly the award’s full title is The Klaus Flugge Prize for the Most Exciting Newcomer to Picture Book Illustration! Shortlists for this award are announced at the end of April and the winner is revealed in September.

Laugh Out Loud Awards (Lollies)

Scholastic announced the launch of this brand new book prize in October 2015 to celebrate the best funny books in children’s literature after it was announced that the Roald Dahl Funny Prize would not continue. The Laugh Out Loud Book prize (the ‘Lollies’) are awarded in three categories:

  • Best Laugh Out Loud Picture Book
  • Best Laugh Out Loud Book for 6-8s
  • Best Laugh Out Loud Book for 9-13s

Little Rebels Children’s Book Award

This award was launched in 2012 in recognition of the rich tradition of radical publishing for children aged 0-12 in the UK. ‘Radical’ is defined widely to include books informed by inclusive/anti-discriminatory concerns or those which promote social equality or social justice. The award is administered by Letterbox Library who specialise in children’s books which celebrate diversity, equality and inclusion.

Love Reading 4 Kids Poetry Prize

Launched in 2019 this is a poetry competition supported by the organisers of National Poetry Day and aimed at children aged 7-11.  Poems are submitted in June and July before schools break up for the summer and the winner is announced on National Poetry Day

Marsh Award for Children’s Literature in Translation(a biennial award, last awarded 2017)

This was a literary prize awarded in the United Kingdom from 1996 until 2017 to the translator of an outstanding work of fiction for young readers translated into English.

Oscar’s Book Prize

This award  is for the best book published for children aged five or under. It is awarded in memory of Oscar Ashton in partnership with Amazon, the London Evening Standard and the National Literacy Trust. Oscar was the son of Evening Standard columnist James Ashton, who died in 2012 at the age of three from an undetected heart condition

Queen of Teen (now ceased)

The Queen of Teen Prize was cancelled after losing sponsorship from the Book People. Launched in 2008, the award was established to recognise excellence in YA and teen fiction and was voted for by teen readers. The final Queen of Teen award was won in 2014 by James (now Juno) Dawson, author of Cruel Summer, Hollow Pike and Say Her Name. Past winners of the biannual award include Louise Rennison and Cathy Cassidy.

Queens Knickers Award

Launched by the Society of Authors in June 2019  this prize is to be awarded for the most ‘quirky’ illustrated book for children aged 0-7. The award is sponsored by author and illustrator Nicholas Allan and named after Allan’s book of the same name. Entries can contain a combination of words and pictures or just pictures and can be any format, including pop-ups, flap books and board books. The prize will be awarded for the first time in summer 2020.

The Roald Dahl Funny Prize (now ceased)

The Roald Dahl Funny Prize ran from 2008 to 2013, with the aim of promoting laughter and humour as a feel-good factor when reading; drawing attention to funny books as readable and enjoyable, and rewarding authors and illustrators who write and illustrate humorous books. After six successful years, Booktrust and the Roald Dahl Literary Estate decided to bring things to an end. Following the closure of this award Scholastic stepped into the breech and launched The Lollies – The Laugh Out Loud Awards

Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize

This award celebrates the best books that communicate science to young people. The prize is open to books in which science is a substantial aspect of the book’s content, narrative or theme and which are written for children up to 14 years old.

SLA Information Book Award

This award for children’s non-fiction was launched in 2011. The Information Book Award is administered annually by the SLAand sponsored by Hachette Children’s Books. The award is split into three separate categories; under 7s, 7-12 and 12-16. Publishers are invited to submit titles in February each year, and the shortlist of nine books is then announced in either July or August. Children are invited to vote for their favourite book in September/October and Peters supply packs of the shortlisted titles. Each section will have a winner, chosen by the panel, as well as a children’s choice winner. There will also be an overall winner, awarded to the best information book across all categories.

In 2017 an associated award – The Hachette Children’s Group Award for Outstanding Contribution to Information Books was launched. This award is given to an eminent UK writer or illustrator of information books for children, to mark an exceptional contribution to excellence in their field. The winner is also announced at the SLA Information Book Award ceremony which usually heralds the start of National Non-fiction November

Sainsbury’s Children’s Book Awards

Launched in 2014 these awards aim to highlight the best children’s books for families to share together in the hope that they will encourage parents and carers to spend more time reading with their children. There are five categories – Baby & Toddler, Picture Book, Fiction, Learning & Development and Favourite Characters.

(Specsavers) National Book Awards

The National Book Awards have recently relaunched following a three year absence thanks to sponsorship from Specsavers. Held in the run up to Christmas as it’s the perfect time to celebrate the best books of the year, there are 11 main categories to this award but only two suitable for us – the Children’s and the Young Adult categories.

Stan Lee Excelsior Award  (now called  Excelsior Award )

The STEAM Children’s Book Prize

The British Interplanetary Society launched the STEAM Children’s Book Prize in 2018. The aim of the prize is to highlight the importance of STEAM subjects and praise the publishing industry and authors for championing them. It is also hoped that by providing children with engaging, fun, and exciting literature, they will be inspired to take an interest in STEAM further into their education. There are four categories – Early Years, Information, Middle Grade and YA.

Teach Primary Book Awards

Launched in 2015, there is now a non-fiction category as well as the three original age-related fiction categories (Reception, KS1 and KS2) and the First News Funny award, which is decided by readers of the newspaper. The award is a little different as judges are asked to assess each shortlisted entry according to six very clearly defined criteria, asking questions about learning opportunities as well as beautiful writing and powerful illustration. This means that as well as being a joy to read, every title listed here has something extra to offer young people – perhaps through a particularly original use of language, or by encouraging them to think differently.

The Telegraph Sports Book Awards

These awards exist to highlight the most outstanding sports books of the previous calendar year, to showcase their merits and to enhance their reputation and profile. There are 11 categories in total and the Children’s Sports Book of the Year category was added in 2020

Typhlo & Tactus International Tactile-Illustrated Book Prize

Launched in 1999 this award was set up to increase the quantity, quality and availability of books with tactile illustrations for children with little or no sight – and it was international, involving Belgium, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and the United Kingdom.

UKLA Book Award

Known as the teacher’s Carnegie because it is judged by a large group of over 60 teachers, this award has three categories: age 3-6; 7-11; 12-16. The teachers always bring a fresh perspective to the judging process every year. As they search for books that “enhance all aspects of literacy learning”, they often include in their shortlists international authors, debut authors and books in translation in preference to many of the established names in children’s literature.

UKLA Digital Book Award

This award was launched by the the UK Literacy Association in association with Booktrust on the 9th of March 2015 to reward innovation, creativity and excellence in digital book publishing. Judged by teachers it gives official recognition to the part played by apps, e-books and other digital interactive products in supporting children’s reading for pleasure and enjoyment of stories.

The Waterstones Children’s Book Prize

The prize was created to uncover hidden talent in children’s writing and raise the profile of new and emerging authors. The short listed titles are selected through the feedback of hundreds of booksellers and reading groups and are a great mixture for all ages (5-8 years, 9-12 years and teenage) and include all genres.

The YA Book Prize

First launched in 2014 this is the only literary prize for YA novels by authors based in the UK and Ireland. The prize is organised by book trade magazine The Bookseller and it is run in partnership with Hay Festival.

(Last updated by Denise Reed on 20 Sept 2020)

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