The Parrot Street Guide to Children’s Book Prizes

Blue Peter Book Award covers


A very wise publishing person once told me that, in the world of children’s publishing, ‘prizes don’t sell books’. It’s true that even the biggest children’s book prizes don’t get the same media coverage as, say, the Booker Prize, meaning that of course the winning books don’t get the same exposure as the equivalent adult prize-winners. And yet they are a fantastic way to identify some of the best new children’s books and authors and a great place to discover your next favourite read.

Many children’s book prizes are judged by experts (children’s book reviewers, bloggers and fellow authors), so you know they are a trusted source. And even better some are judged by children themselves. Who better to recommend a children’s book than a young bookworm? We’re aware that some of these prizes could be flying under the radar for many parents and children. We don’t want you to miss the amazing prize-winning books that they celebrate, so here’s our guide to the children’s book prizes worth following:

Blue Peter Book Awards

The Blue Peter Book Awards have been celebrating the best authors, most creative illustrators and the greatest reads for children since 2000. Awarded in two categories, Best Story and Best Book with Facts, the winning books are voted for by children across the country from a shortlist chosen by an expert panel. In 2020, to celebrate 20 years of the awards, Blue Peter, in partnership with BookTrust, asked viewers to vote for their favourite Blue Peter Book Award winning title from the last two decades from a shortlist of 10 amazing books. The winner, unsurprisingly, was Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone!

Wildspark cover

One to read: This year’s winners were revealed last week on World Book Day and we can’t wait to read Best Story winner Wildspark by Vashti Hardy, which combines science fiction, adventure and fantasy.

Children’s Book Award

The Children’s Book Award has been run by the charity the Federation of Children’s Book Groups for 40 years and is voted for exclusively by children. It awards prizes in three categories: Younger Children (picture books), Younger Readers (age 6-11) and Older Readers (age 10-18).

Armistice Runner cover

One to read: The 2019 winner in the Older Reader’s category is the fantastic Armistice Runner by Tom Palmer, a compelling and compassionate tale set between the present day and the First World War published by one of our favourite indie children’s publishers, Barrington Stoke.

Waterstones Children’s Book Prize

The Waterstones Children’s Book Prize is chosen by Waterstones booksellers and is awarded in three categories: Illustrated Books, Books for Younger Readers (age 6-11) and Books for Older Readers (age 12+). This year’s shortlist includes High Rise Mystery and Charlie Changes into a Chicken, both of which were huge hits with our subscribers last year.

Boy at the Back of the Class cover

One to read: The 2019 overall winner was Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q. Rauf which was probably book of the year at Parrot Street HQ too. If you haven’t read it yet, put it straight to the top of your ‘to be read’ pile.

CILIP Carnegie Medal

The CILIP Carnegie Medal is one of the UK’s oldest children’s book awards, awarded annually by librarians alongside the Kate Greenaway Medal for illustration. It was established in 1936 and previous winners include the likes of Arthur Ransome, C.S. Lewis, Terry Pratchett and Philip Pullman. A formidable longlist of more than 90 titles was announced in February – look out for this year’s shortlist announcement on 19th March.

The Poet X cover

One to read: In 2019 the Carnegie Medal was awarded to a writer of colour for the first time in its 83-year history. The winning title, The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo, is an astonishingly beautiful YA novel in verse set in a Harlem school’s slam poetry club. We loved it.

Costa Children’s Book Award

The Costa Children’s Book Award is awarded alongside four adult Costa Book Award categories every year and is chosen by a panel of industry experts. Fun fact: The Costa Children’s Book Award is the only book prize to be won by Roald Dahl! He won in 1983 with The Witches.

Asha and the Spirit Bird cover

One to read: This year’s winner, Asha & the Spirit Bird by Jasbinder Bilan, is a remarkable book, so beautifully told and with one of our favourite ever book covers!

The Branford Boase Award

The Branford Boase Award is a book award with a difference in that it is awarded jointly to an author and their editor. It was set up to celebrate emerging talent and is awarded annually to the most promising book for children aged 7+ by a first-time novelist.

High Rise Mystery cover

One to read: The 2020 longlist includes some fantastic books and authors, but our pick has to be High Rise Mystery, authored by the wonderful Sharna Jackson and edited by none other than Robin Stevens (of Murder Most Unladylike fame) for up-and-coming children’s publisher Knights Of.

The Laugh Out Loud Book Awards (Lollies)

The Lollies celebrate the best and funniest children’s books and are voted for by children in three categories: Picture Books, Books for 6-8-year-olds and Books for 9-13-year-olds. We are evangelical about the importance of funny books for young people, so this particular award has a very special place in our hearts!

I Bet I Can Make You Laugh cover

One to read: We were thrilled when this year the Best Laugh Out Loud Book for 9-13-year-olds was awarded to a poetry anthology, I Bet I Can Make You Laugh by Joshua Seigal and Tim Wesson. It’s a diverse and fantastically funny collection of poems and it’s great to see poetry for children getting this kind of recognition.

Sainsbury’s Children’s Book Awards

Now in their sixth year, the Sainsbury’s Children’s Book Awards are awarded in partnership with reading charity BookTrust and their goal is to celebrate the best books for families to share together and to encourage parents and carers to spend more time with their children. Judged by a panel of experts, the awards are split into four categories: Baby and Toddler, Picture Book, Fiction, and Learning and Development.

The Umbrella Mouse cover

One to read: This year’s fiction winner was The Umbrella Mouse by Anna Fargher (illustrated by Sam Usher), a gentle and beautifully told tale of courage and friendship based on the true stories of animals caught in the conflict of World War II.

Are you keen to nurture your child’s love of reading? We know that discovering, purchasing and recommending books that maintain your child’s enthusiasm for reading, helping them to grow as readers, can feel overwhelming and time consuming. Why not let us take that off your to-do list? With a Parrot Street Book Club subscription your child receives a carefully chosen new children’s book and accompanying activity pack through the post each month. They receive a stream of varied and exciting books, whilst the book club-style questions and activities are perfect for sharing. Find out more here.


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