UKLA Book Awards 2023

The only national book awards judged by teachers! United Kingdom Literacy Association (UKLA) Book Awards are now in their 15th 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 2023 winners were announced on June 23rd alongside the result of the teacher’s and student teacher’s Shadowing choices.

Winner 11- 14+ category: The Crossing written by Manjeet Mann (Penguin ) ISBN: 978-0241411445

The tale of two teenagers battling against the extremes of life. The two lives will cross. Natalie in Dover is dealing with grief and a brother becoming involved with the far right  and finds  her refuge in sea swimming whilst Sammy is enduring an escape from Eritrea on the path to north west Europe and all of the tragedy and torture the journey will bring. Judges commended this “important and powerful” verse novel for its “brilliant construction” and clever handling of the dual narrator perspective to reveal with “real emotional heart and soul” the topical and relevant tragedies of the refugee crisis. The verse novel format is really engaging and accessible, but equally provides a “deeply thought-provoking” read which “really lives with you”.

Winner 7-10+ category: The Light in Everything written by Katya Balen (Bloomsbury) ISBN: 978-1526622983

This story about blended families and learning to find room in your heart for new life and new love, is “gut-wrenchingly emotional and relatable” and gives a really authentic portrayal of a modern blended family and the difficulties faced by the children, as well as dealing very sensitively and appropriately with the difficult issue of domestic violence. In awards which primarily seek “books in which the language is powerful, “the sophisticated but not condescending language” used was particularly commended by the judges.



Winner 3-6+ category: Flooded Written and illustrated by Mariajo Ilustrajo. (Frances Lincoln) ISBN: 978-0711276796.  This funny and beautifully illustrated tale of animals who live in a city that is ever so slowly flooding delighted the judges with its “unique style” of “quirky and original” illustrations with “lots to notice in the finer detail and a great use of a limited colour palette”. They noted that this is a book which “works on lots of different levels”, with older children able to access the underlying political messages about awareness of the disadvantaged in society, while all ages will appreciate the humour and the need for communities to work together. It will also provide an “excellent opportunity to talk about climate change.”

Winner Information Books 3-14+Musical Truth written by Jeffrey Boakye, illustrated by Ngade Smart. (Faber) ISBN: 978-0571366491

A  uniquely accessible and captivating history which ties together music, black history, family, growing up, politics and inequality with panache, humour, and at times brutal honesty. “Interesting”, “informative”, “powerful and unflinching” are just some of the adjectives judges used to describe what they called a “masterpiece”.

Highly Commended Information Books 3-14+: Here and Queer written by Rowan illustrated by Jacky Sheridan. “Informative, accessible and non-patronising,” fully “accepting of difference and identities” and based on” authentic lived experiences”, this was skilfully written to be a “personal dialogue between the writer and the reader” and overcoming “the isolation of the teen reader”.
Shadowing winners


The Comet written and illustrated by Joe Tod-Stanton ( Flying Eye) ISBN: 978-1838740658

7- 10+

The Light in Everything written by Katya Balen (Bloomsbury) ISBN: 978-1526622983


The Blue Book of Nebo.  Written and translated by Manon Stefan Ros (Firefly) ISBN 978-1913102784



More Awards

Little Rebels Book Awards 2023

The Little Rebels Children’s Book Award, now in its 11th year, recognises children’s fiction (for readers aged 0-12) which promotes social justice or social equality,

The Week Junior Book Awards 2023 2023 sees the inaugural year of The Week Junior Book Awards sponsored by Bookily from National Book Tokens. Set up to “celebrate the brilliant