UKLA Book Awards 2022

The only national book awards judged by teachers! United Kingdom Literacy Association (UKLA) Book Awards are now in their 14th year. Teachers are looking for texts that can “enhance all aspects of literacy learning”.  The process ensures they are able to share the books with their classes and discover what genuinely works with young readers in each of the three age categories and so their judgements are soundly based on pupil response.    Longlists are published in September and the shortlists in March. The previous year’s shortlisted books are the subject of a creative teaching and pupil response award The Our Class Loves This Book. Teachers may decide to use their chosen book as part of a theme they are teaching with their children, it could be an author study, or maybe a one-off exploration – the choice is theirs! The response can be presented in any way, e.g. through information technology, dance, art, drama, writing, music, spoken presentation or any combination of these.

The 2022 winners were announced on July 1st alongside the result of the teacher’s and student teacher’s Shadowing choices.

Winner 11- 14+ category: Punching the Air written by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam (HarperCollins ) ISBN: 978-0008422141

This “breathtaking” verse novel “ where every word is so carefully chosen and laid out on the page”, relates a powerful and important true story of wrongful imprisonment which ‘”reduced students to tears.”

This novel based upon Yusef Salaam’s lived experience as one of the Exonerated Five  convicted in the notorious “Central Park jogger case” is an authentic and important testament which tells a moving and deeply profound story about how one boy is able to maintain his humanity and fight for the truth, in a system designed to strip him of both.

Highly Commended 11- 14+ category Tsunami Girl written by Julian Sedgwick, illustrated by Chie Kutsuwada. (Guppy Books) ISBN: 978-1913101466 Against the backdrop of horrific events of the 2011 Tsunami, 15 year old Yuki’s story is sometimes a simple coming of age tale, but always an incredibly detailed and researched narrative of family, friendship and self-struggle. The book is written in evocative prose, describing Yuki’s timely visit to her grandfather which coincides with the onset of the disaster, coupled with dynamic manga style illustrations, which only help cultivate an immersive experience for any reader.
Winner 7-10+ category: October, October written by Katya Balen (Bloomsbury) ISBN: 978-152660193

October and her father live in total – but contented – isolation in the woods. when disaster strikes. Her father is badly injured and October is forced into an utterly alien world of houses, school, hospitals and, worst of all, her detested mother.  Kayta Balen captures October’s fear and confusion and guilt and fury and yearning, which makes it an intense involving read. But it is also a passionate call to be true to yourself and an authentic portrayal of friendship and of family reconciliation. It will make children see their own familiar world of home and school with fresh eyes. Praised by judges for the” beautiful use of language” which “really sounds like a child and yet is so poetic and complex” and provokes a  “strong emotional response” in all readers

Highly Commended 7-10+ category

Front Desk written by Kelly Yang (Knights Of) ISBN: 978-1913311094

In this #ownvoices novel, Kelly Yang draws on her own experiences in the 1990s as she tells the story of Mia and her parents. Together, the family must fight injustice and bigotry, having just settled in America from their home country of China. This, the first of what has become a popular series, packs an emotional punch knowing that Mia’s problems are those faced by immigrants every day. A perfect book to develop empathy, this “positive story of making new lives” clearly resonates with the lived experience of many children in the UK and provides a “really powerful message about resilience” in an accessible and entertaining package.

For the first time ever the judges felt compelled to award joint winners in this category. Both books  were considered so exceptional in very different ways  that both deserved the highest accolade.


Joint Winner 3-6+ category: Barbara Throws a Wobbler Written and illustrated by Nadia Shireen. (Puffin) ISBN: 978-1780081366 A very funny tale of a tantrum could apply to most of us. And, like Barbara, it is often good friends who assist a return to normality. Young readers may well identify with Barbara (but will probably cite a sibling). The judges called this book “a joy” which  “delivers on reading for pleasure as well as helping us all to reflect on the universal impact of a bad day, teaching valuable lessons in empathy and allowing children to  talk about and understand their feelings”.

Joint Winner 3-6+ The Invisible written and illustrated by Tom Percival. (Simon & Schuster) ISBN: 978-1471191305

This book sensitively portrays the impact that feeling ‘unseen’ by the world can have. Isabel’s family are struggling financially, and she finds herself watching others who have things that are out with her reach, yet they don’t seem to notice her at all. She feels ‘invisible’, both figuratively and literally. This opens her eyes to others experiencing the same feelings, albeit due to different circumstances, and she sets about trying to help them … ultimately building a sense of community spirit. beautifully and sensitively confronts the issue of being excluded by poverty. Judges felt this was an “important story which packs a real emotional punch” and should be “in every classroom”

Winner Information Books 3-14+Nano: The Spectacular Science of the Very (Very) Small written by Dr Jess Wade, illustrated Melissa Castrillón. (Walker Books )ISBN: 978-1406394603

“Accessible and beautiful” Life in miniature is so skilfully explained and stunningly illustrated with“so much learning in so few words”, powerfully representing for young readers “a truly diverse and gender positive look at the way the global community of scientists really works”.judges said this was truly “ unique”.

Shadowing winners

Unusually no overlap with judge’s choices!


Pip And Egg written by Alex Latimer and illustrated by David Litchfield ( Scholastic) ISBN: 978-1407193687

7- 10+

When Stars are Scattered written and illustrated by Victoria Jamieson, with Omar Mohamed (Faber) ISBN: 978-0571363858


The Outlaws Scarlett and Browne written by Jonathan Stroud (Walker) ISBN: 978-1406394818



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