The Week Junior Book Awards

Celebrating the power of children’s books

A poster for The Week Junior Book Awards
(Image credit: Future)

The Week Junior Book Awards were launched earlier this year to celebrate the uplifting, enriching, and life-enhancing power of books to change children’s lives and honour the talented people who create them. They continue the magazine’s mission to promote the power of reading for pleasure by helping children discover the best books for them. The awards are sponsored by Bookily from National Book Tokens, and in partnership with The Bookseller.

The eight Book of the Year winners, will be decided by separate panels, with judges including broadcaster and writer Radzi Chinyanganya, presenter and YouTuber Maddie Moate, bestselling and award-winning authors Frank Cottrell-Boyce and Sharna Jackson and a host of experts in children’s literature.

An impressive literary line-up

Star authors including Malorie Blackman, Phil Earle, Elle McNicoll, Alison Hammond, and Children’s Laureate Joseph Coelho are among those shortlisted. The impressive line-up affirms the calibre, depth and diversity of talent in children’s publishing – a category that many believe deserves more recognition and media attention. 

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Former Children’s Laureate, Malorie Blackman OBE, is shortlisted for Children’s Audiobook of the Year for Ellie and the Cat, narrated by Esme Sears and sits alongside Richard Ayoade’s The Book That No One Wanted to Read, narrated by the author as well as musician Jarvis Cocker and actor Lydia Fox and Wolfbane by Michelle Paver, narrated by Sir Ian McKellan.

Bestselling author Phil Earle contends with fellow award-winners SF Said and A. M. Dassu in the Children’s Book of the Year: Older Fiction (9–12 year-olds) category with While the Storm Rages, Tyger, and Fight Back respectively, whilst the Children’s Book of the Year: Younger Fiction (6–9 year-olds) category sees Children’s Laureate Joseph Coelho compete against author and illustrator Nadia Shireen, with Creeping Beauty: Fairy Tales Gone Bad, and Grimwood.

In the Children’s Book of the Year: Older Non-Fiction (9–12 year-olds) category, beloved television presenter Alison Hammond’s book celebrating a host of influential and inspirational Black figures from history, Black in Time, is in contention with You Don’t Know What War Is, Yeva Skalietska’s chronicle of twelve days in Ukraine that changed the 12-year old’s life forever. 

Authors whose debut children’s books are shortlisted  for the Breakthrough award, supported by World Book Day, include Tọlá Okogwu for Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun, the story of a British-Nigerian girl who discovers her curls have psychokinetic abilities, and Caryl Lewis for Seed, a story about big dreams, hope and the power of imagination.

See the shortlists and find out more about each book.

Children’s choice

Thousands of The Week Junior readers also get a seat at the voting table, with an invitation to choose their Cover Of The Year from a shortlist selection that includes books by Kiran Millwood Hargrave, Rob Biddulph, and Sophy Henn

Anna Bassi, Editorial Director for The Week Junior, said: “The volume and quality of entries to our first book awards has blown us away. The 76 titles that have been shortlisted reflect a huge range of themes, subjects, styles and voices and are testament to the creativity, care and sheer passion of today’s children’s authors, illustrators and publishers. I’m particularly excited about the books on our Breakthrough shortlist and thrilled to be celebrating and supporting some of the stars of the future.”

Philip Jones, Editor of The Bookseller, said: “We are absolutely delighted by these shortlists which display the full breadth and magnificence that is today’s writing and publishing for children. With the reach of The Week Junior and these new prizes, we hope these books find the readers they so richly deserve, and that today’s readers are as entranced as we were by the titles shortlisted.”

Lisa Bywater, Marketing Manager, National Book Tokens, said: “Many of the authors, illustrators and publishers represented here are already superstars with devoted readers, and for good reason – without exception, they create worlds which children choose to visit again and again. That they are joined by such an impressive wealth of new and upcoming talent is testament to the passion and skill of an industry dedicated to creating and fostering reading for pleasure for life. We’re thrilled to be part of these inaugural awards.”

The Week Junior Book Festival, also sponsored by Bookily from National Book Tokens, will take place in London during October half term. Attracting hundreds of young readers and their families, this event features an incredible line up of authors and illustrators in a series of interactive, fun and inspiring sessions.

The winners of the Week Junior Book Awards are announced on 2nd October, 2023.

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