This Is Owl rules the roost and wins the BookTrust Storytime Prize 2020

Published on: 9 Rhagfyr 2020

Libby Walden and Jacqui Lee's playful book has been voted the best book for sharing with little ones by librarians and families.

The Storytime Prize trophy and the front cover of This Is Owl

Libby Walden and Jacqui Lee have been declared the winners of the 2020 BookTrust Storytime Prize for their book This Is Owl.

The duo follow in the footsteps of Emily Gravett, who won the first ever Storytime Prize last year.

The award - run in association with the CILIP Youth Libraries Group - aims to find the best book for sharing with babies and children under five, and the winner is voted for by families and librarians across the country.

Over the summer, despite library closures and coronavirus restrictions, librarians from across the nine English regions, Wales and Northern Ireland shared the shortlisted books on Facebook groups and virtual storytime sessions.

BookTrust was also able to provide many families with a set of the shortlisted books to help them with the judging, which they are now able to keep.

'A clever and original book'

Waterstones Children's Laureate Cressida Cowell, who was on the judging panel to choose the Storytime Prize shortlist, presented the award to Walden and Lee live in a virtual ceremony today (9 December).

Describing This Is Owl as a 'clever and original book with lovely illustrations', she added: 'The interactive elements - tickling Owl's tummy, flapping the pages to help Owl fly, calling Owl back with a loud Twit-twoo - make it wonderful for sharing for the early years age group, because they can join in joyfully with the story.'

Meanwhile, BookTrust's CEO Diana Gerald praised the 'wonderful' authors and illustrators creating books which bring families so much joy - even before children can talk or read themselves.

'These are the books that families will read time and again with their children, creating bonds, sparking their imagination and helping with emotional wellbeing,' she added.

'This year's winner This Is Owl is a book that can be shared with the very youngest readers, proving that it's never too early to start loving books!'

Meanwhile, after being named the winner, Walden said she was 'astonished', adding: 'It was such an amazing shortlist!

'But Owl is very special to me and Jacqui did such an amazing job illustrating it. A big thank you to BookTrust - in a world where our worlds have become so small this year that we can still share stories and leave the outside book within a cover of a book is so special. Thank you for all the work that BookTrust does and librarians do to get books into the hands of all children.'

Celebrating the Storytime Prize shortlist

This Is Owl was one of six books on this year's Storytime Prize shortlist, which was chosen by a panel of judges looking for titles which have an engaging narrative and illustrations,  include a diversity of backgrounds, and stimulate the imagination and encourage interaction.

The other titles nominated for the prize were:

Jake Hope, who helped choose the shortlist, said: 'Stories help us encounter the world through new eyes in exciting ways! The shortlist for this year's Storytime Prize offers rich opportunities to comfort and to challenge and to take part and to play, showing the many ways that sharing different types of story can enhance and enrich our everyday lives.

'Despite the challenges that 2020 has brought, libraries have explored new ways of engaging and enchanting children and families.

'Books have been delivered remotely and storytime sessions digitally, showcasing the versatility of the skills of staff and the core values of libraries of enabling people to connect with new ideas and be creative, and proving that libraries extend beyond the space between their four walls.'

Find out more about the Storytime Prize

Download the full press release

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