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Booktrust Storytime announces the shortlist of best books for sharing with babies and children under 5

BookTrust Storytime has today revealed this year’s prize shortlist, celebrating the very best books for sharing with babies and children under five, published in the last year. 

Selected by a panel of experts, the six selected titles on the shortlist are:

Arlo The Lion Who Couldn't Sleep by Catherine Rayner (Macmillan Children’s Books)

Shortlisted for CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2021, we loved this book: "the perfect bedtime story that can teach us all how to unwind. Useful for mindfulness and as an introduction to Night and Day topics, this stunning book is a real triumph of beautiful words and images working in absolute harmony."

Octopus Shocktopus! by Peter Bently & Steven Lenton (Nosy Crow)

Created by the dream team that is Peter Bently and Stephen Lenton, this is pure fun and games with a fluorescent octopus on the roof! ‘One day, we found an octopus/ had come to live on top of us.’ Those are the opening lines of this glorious picture book – how could you not want to know what happens next? Making friends has never been so much fun.

No! Said Rabbit by Marjoke Henrichs (Scallywag Press)

Perfect for bedtime, this is a stunning picture book with Rabbit embodying every strong-willed child. Kids will love the rebellion of Rabbit and parents will smile as the oh so patient mummy coaxes him into cuddles at the end. By debut author illustrator Marjoke Henrichs it's perfectly pitched and reassuring for parents whose child is being contrary.

The Whales on the Bus by Katrina Charman & Nick Sharratt (Bloomsbury Children’s)

This brilliant reimagining of the classic nursery rhyme is complemented by the bright and colourful illustrations of Nick Sharratt. Set to the tune of The Wheels on the Bus, this zany adventure provides endless fun with kids going on a journey with a bevy of animals as they ride, soar, whizz and zoom on a whole convoy of vehicles, from tigers on gliders to cranes on trains and ducks on trucks.

I Really, Really Need a Wee! by Karl Newson & Duncan Beedie (Little Tiger Press)

A pant-wettingly funny tale of determination and self-awareness - packed with toilet humour. Perfect for teaching children the importance of that last-chance bathroom trip!

Lenny and Wilbur by Ken Wilson-Max (Alanna Max)

Lenny and his furry friend Wilbur are inseparable, there every step of the way for eachother as they giggle and laugh their way through their adventures together.

The six shortlisted titles are central to a new national pilot that the reading charity is running in partnership with libraries. Launching in the autumn, the pilot is designed to support disadvantaged families engage with their local public library and develop an ongoing reading habit.

Developed in partnership with libraries, local authorities and families, the project will help disadvantaged families with young children engage with their local public library so that sharing stories becomes a regular and long-lasting part of family life. Copies of this year’s shortlist will be distributed to all pilot libraries and used to encourage families to make repeat visits to their local library. The books will also be integrated into a raft of resources and activities available in a smaller number of libraries to help bring the magic of reading to life.

The families and librarians taking part in the BookTrust Storytime pilot will also be invited to take part in the vote to crown this year’s winner of the £5,000 prize, announced in early 2022.  Previous winners of the £5,000 award include This Is Owl by Libby Walden and Jacqui Lee (2020) and Cyril and Pat by Emily Gravett (2019).

Jill Coleman, Director of Children's Books at BookTrust, said: 'Our mission at BookTrust is to get every child reading so they can reap the lifechanging benefits this brings. Sharing stories with young children is a crucial step on this journey, and so we are thrilled to announce that this wonderful prize will now form part of BookTrust Storytime, our new national pilot, designed to encourage more families to enjoy and take part in activities in their local libraries. Congratulations to shortlisted authors and illustrators, and best of luck to the librarians and families who will be helping select the winner – we hope you enjoy discovering and celebrating each of these six charming books along the way.’ 

Ben Lawrence, Children’s Librarian for Calderdale Libraries and Yorkshire and Humber Representative of CILIP Youth Libraries Group, said: ‘The weekly storytime is a ubiquitous library experience for so many families. Libraries want to enable everyone to access the wonderful world of story, song and rhyme. The shortlisted books for this year’s BookTrust Storytime prize represent the pinnacle of attributes for books that need to be shared, with each having truly engaging and entertaining stories and so beautifully and imaginatively illustrated. These books will be really put to the test, both in the library and with families at home. Thank goodness that it’s up to families and librarians across the country to vote for their favourite. I’m not sure I could choose between these wonderful books!’

What do you think? Which have you read, which have you loved and which is your favourite book for sharing?

excited, flattered and honoured to be shortlisted for this brilliant prize. Arlo is very excited too and has his paws crossed!’

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