Following the shortlist announcement on the 31st March we've been eagerly anticipating the winners of the UKLA Book Awards 2023. The only UK children's book awards that are judged entirely by teachers sees new ground broken this year as Katya Balen, last year's winner in the 7-11+ category for October, October takes the category prize again this year with The Light in Everything. This is the first time an author has won in consecutive years in the history of the UKLA Book Awards. A very worthy winner, our Editorial Expert Julia Eccleshare described The Light in Everything as "a glowing story about learning to find room in your heart for new life and new love".
Responding to the news of her consecutive win, Katya Balen commented "'The UKLA Book Awards and its community are everything I love about being a children's author - their members and judges are so enthusiastic, dedicated and involved in making sure young people are reading for pleasure and exploring a wide range of books. So it's an absolute honour and a privilege for them to recognise my work and to win the 7+ category with The Light in Everything”
Costa Children's Book Award winner The Crossing by Manjeet Mann wins for the 11-14+ category. Mann is also a return winner, she was a joint winner in 2021 with her debut Run, Rebel. The judges commended this verse novel, calling it “important and powerful”. The Crossing handles topical tragedies of the refugee crisis with, as the judges described “real emotional heart and soul”.
Both Balen and Mann also received Emeritus medals for winning their respective categories twice.
The 3-6+ category of this year's UKLA Book Awards has been won by the visually stunning debut, Flooded by Mariajo Ilustrajo. We're also huge fans of this book, it was a LoveReading4Kids Debut of the Month on its publication and has received high praise from us since it was released in hardback in May 2022. Tricia Adams, our Expert Reviewer described the book as "a brilliant debut novel" and "a humorous look at letting a problem fester and grow". Flooded also delighted the judges as a book that “works on lots of different levels” with “lots to notice in the finer detail and a great use of a limited colour palette”.
Last but by no means least the Information Books 3-14+ category was won this year by Musical Truth -A Musical History of Modern Black Britain in 28 Songs written by Jeffrey Boakye and illustrated by Ngadi Smart. Described as a uniquely accessible way to engage readers with Black History and commended by the judges for being “interesting”, “informative”, “powerful and unflinching” and a “masterpiece”. For this category the judges also wanted to Highly Commend the “incredibly important” Here and Queer by Rowan Ellis, with “bright and engaging” illustrations by Jacky Sheridan.
That the UKLA Book Awards are judged by teachers means that each of these books can be heartily recommended to their peers and gets vital books on the shelves of our school libraries.
LoveReading4Kids is a proud co-sponsor of the UKLA Book Awards and Deborah Maclaren, our Managing Director said: "Now that was a shortlist! We know at LoveReading4Kids, how challenging it is to select a winner from such a brilliant list of children's books. But the UKLA has done it again, and we wholeheartedly endorse the list and would like to say a hearty congratulations to the winners.
The only national awards to be judged entirely by teachers, the UKLA Awards are a special thing and we love being involved. It's wonderful to know that these books have been shared with children in the classroom, and they've had such a huge impact. Reading for pleasure is so critical to the outcomes of our children and helps us create readers for life. To everyone involved with the UKLA, your trustees, your members, your teacher judges, thanks for all that you do to encourage reading for pleasure in our children."
Congratulations to this year's winners. You can shop them below and continue to support schools by giving up to 25% to UK schools. You can also find out more about the UKLA Book Awards on their website: ukla.org/awards/ukla-book-award/