Originating in Kingston and Richmond and now in its fourth year and partnered by the OU, the Spark! School Book Awards are expanding their reach to any school in the UK. With a vision to “build excitement and enjoyment in reading in all schools”, children vote for the winners of the four main categories: Picture fiction for early readers; Fiction for readers aged 7+, Fiction for readers aged 9+ and a new category: Fiction for readers aged 11+ . To enable Spark! pupils and teachers to experience a greater range of texts, they have a new guest category, which will change each year. The guest category for 2023-24, is Graphic novels for primary readers. There is also a School of the Year award to the school which has shown inspiring engagement in every aspect of the Spark! School Book Awards. As well as winning a Spark! Trophy, the winning school will also receive £100 of books for their school, chosen by the school.
Resources available to participating schools include competitions, Buzz downloadable magazine, online Q&A sessions with authors and illustrators, posters and reading booklets. This year their mascot, Buzz, has started his own free book club to introduce book promos to his followers. As a registered charity and through donations made to the Spark! Book Fund, they put books in the hands of children who may not have access to them, as nominated by their teachers.
Publishers submit titles in the Autumn term. Panels of teachers, librarian and educational professionals select the longlists which are announced in December and the shortlists in January with voting opening in May. The online award ceremony is held in July.