BookTrust Storytime Prize 

This new prize celebrates and promotes the best books for sharing with young children. We are looking for books which have wide appeal to parents and carers across our diverse nation, and for stories which can be read and enjoyed over and over again.

Dad and daughter reading together

We are delighted to reveal the shortlist for the BookTrust Storytime Prize 2019, featuring seven wonderful stories that are perfect for enjoying together.

Chosen by our panel of judges and unveiled by Floella Benjamin at a special Hay Festival event, the books will now be shared with children, carers and families by public librarians from each of the nine English regions (organised in partnership with the Youth Library Group), along with Wales and Northern Ireland, to find the winner.

The winning book will be announced at a ceremony in London in November 2019, with a prize of £5,000 to the author and illustrator.

The shortlisted books are:

Find out more about the shortlist and enjoy the authors reading their nominated books below:

Amazing by Steve Antony

The cover of Amazing and author Steve Antony

Amazing follows a young boy and his adventures with his pet dragon - and the fact that the lead character is in a wheelchair is completely incidental.

'I love how the Booktrust Storytime Prize is all about the joy of sharing stories, and I'm thrilled that Amazing has been shortlisted,' Steve said.

Why the judges chose it

'Brimming full of adventure, imagination and friendship, Amazing is a captivating book that is perfect for sharing, enjoying and bringing people together regardless of their lives or backgrounds,' said Jake Hope. 'Playful and creative, it is a joy both to read and to delight in its vibrant, lively pictures.'

Read our review of Amazing

Billy and the Beast by Nadia Shireen

The cover of Billy and the Beast and author Nadia Shireen

Billy and the Beast follows what happens when Billy and her trusty companion Fatcat get kidnapped on their walk through the woods - will Billy be able to save them?

'I'm beyond thrilled that Billy and the Beast has been shortlisted for Booktrust's Storytime Prize!' Nadia said. 'Its means everything that children are enjoying reading it - and even if I don't win, I'm going to make myself a tiny paper crown and wear it around the house. Thank you so much!'

Why the judges chose it

'I love the positive, funny and resourceful Billy in this genuinely charming tale of overcoming a beast with wit and cunning,' said judge James Mayhew. 'It's an empowering story and the illustrations are full of the sort of silliness children will love. Nadia Shireen is one of the most intelligent and witty picture book creators of the new generation, and this is one of her best yet.'

Read our review of Billy and the Beast

Cake by Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet

The cover of Cake, and Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet

Cake is delighted when he receives his first ever party invitation... but is it really a good idea for a cake to attend a birthday celebration?

'First we heard that there would be a new Storytime Prize which is, let's be honest, exciting enough but then to be shortlisted for it!' Sue and Paul said. 'Good grief! We're thrilled and honoured.'

Why the judges chose it

'Cake is a tremendously fun, funny book that children will delight in returning to time and time again,' said judge Amy McKay. 'With a perfect building of tension and a touch of dark humour, it's the perfect story to share.'

Read our review of Cake

Cyril and Pat by Emily Gravett

The cover of Cyril and Pat and author Emily Gravett

Cyril the Squirrel is so lonely that, when he finally makes a friend, he doesn't seem to notice that 'Pat' might not be quite what he seems...

Why the judges chose it

'Cyril and Pat is an absolute gift to a storyteller,' said judge Joy Court. 'The characters just leap from the page with Emily's beautiful, vibrant images and it is such a good rhyming text with wonderful comic timing in the page-turn. But even more than that, it is a book with a great message about friendship and acceptance of others.'

Read our review of Cyril and Pat 

Hat Tricks by Satoshi Kitamura

The cover of Hat Tricks and author Satoshi Kitamura

This picture book is perfect for children who enjoy learning their animals, as Hattie the Magician pulls all sorts of creatures out of her hat!

'I'm very happy to be on the short list, especially because BookTrust has been a very important organisation for my books since I started so many years ago, as well as for all other books and authors published in UK,' Satoshi said.

Why the judges chose it

'What's in Hattie's hat? Parents and children will love finding out in this engaging, interactive picture book by acclaimed author and illustrator, Satoshi Kitamura,' said judge Alison Brumwell. 'Rhythm, rhyme, tongue-twisters and a colourful explosion of animals are all delivered with a magical flourish. A perfect book for sharing!'

Read our review of Hat Tricks

If All The World Were by Joseph Coelho and Allison Colpoys

The cover of If All The World Were, and photos of Joseph Coelho and Allison Colpoys

This beautiful story tells the love that one little girl has for her ageing grandad. One day he isn't there anymore, but the little girl finds evidence of their happy times together.

'Reading stories to children is such a simple, special and wonderfully beneficial activity,' said Joseph. 'I am completely honoured that mine and Allison Colpoys' If All the World Were... has made the shortlist and delighted that the book will be shared with children, carers and families over the holidays. For me, this is what writing is really all about - providing stories to be shared.'

Why the judges chose it

'If All The World Were is an adorable, emotional story that crosses all cultures,' said judge Floella Benjamin. 'It deals with unforgettable love and how someone who is no longer part of everyday life can be remembered joyfully.'

Read our review of If All The World Were

Little Owl, Little Owl, Can't You Sleep by Jo Lodge

The front cover of Little Owl Little Owl Can't You Sleep and author Jo Lodge

Little Owl can't sleep, as the forest creatures are all too noisy (apart from a mouse who is trying very hard to be quiet!) It's an interactive bedtime book with gentle rhyming text.

'I'm really delighted that my book Little Owl, Little Owl Can't You Sleep? has been shortlisted for the Booktrust Storytime Award,' said Jo. 'BookTrust is a fantastic charity that puts books into the hands of young readers and I'm honoured to be involved. Also I'm very grateful to my publisher Campbell Books and the creative and dynamic team there - especially my editor Sally Symes who wrote the fabulous text.'

Why the judges chose it

'The judges had high praise for the natural setting and strong story line of the gently humourous rhyming text, which incorporates a hide and seek adventure with animal noises and behaviour,' explained judge Julia Hale.

Read our review of Little Owl, Little Owl, Can't You Sleep

Meet the judges

Over the summer holidays, the shortlisted books will be shared with children, carers and families by public librarians from each of the nine English regions (organised in partnership with the Youth Library Group), along with Wales and Northern Ireland, to find the best book for sharing.

The librarians taking part are:

  • Mandy Crilly - Stoke Library, Coventry (West Midlands)
  • Elena Judd - Norwich Millennium Library, Norwich (Eastern)
  • Valerie Christie - Lisburn City Library, Lisburn (Northern Ireland)
  • Trish Thomas - Newtown Library, Newtown (Wales)
  • Clare Groves - Wokingham Borough Council, Wokingham (South Eastern)
  • Edgardo Zaghini - Orpington Library, Orpington (London)
  • Ben Lawrence - Discover, Halifax (Yorkshire and Humber)
  • Deborah Averill - Cornwall Library & Information Service (South West)
  • Sarah Ratcliffe - Northtyneside Schools Library Service, Killingworth (North East)
  • Irene Peachey - Darnhill Library, Darnhill (North West)
  • Kate Lister - Market Harborough Library, Market Harborough (East Midlands)

Meanwhile, the panel of judges who chose the Storytime Prize 2019 shortlist are:

Alison BrumwellAlison Brumwell
Librarian and literacy consultant

Alison has nearly 20 years' experience as a librarian. During this time, she has held a variety of posts related to children's and young people's services, including Bookstart/Early Years Co-ordinator.

Alison, who is 2019 Chair of the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medal judging panel, currently works at Kirklees College and freelances as a literacy consultant. She is passionate about promoting the value of reading for pleasure and has been a volunteer with Africa Educational Trust since 2011, which has involved several trips to Uganda. Alison will most often be found reading or walking (but never at the same time) and is an unashamed bibliosmiac!

Amy McKayAmy McKay
School librarian of the year 2016

A familiar face at festivals and on judging panels, Amy makes regular appearances at Edinburgh and has judged the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway medals, the Blue Peter Book Awards and the Nibbies.

Describing herself as a 'stealth librarian', Amy lures readers in to the library with innovative clubs and activities using her natural rapport to introduce them to the world of books and reading.

Floella BenjaminBaroness Floella Benjamin
Author and TV presenter

Floella has a varied background, having worked as an actress, presenter, writer, author, producer and regulator and policy maker in government. She first appeared in children's television programmes 43 years ago in the iconic Playschool and Play Away and became a household name.

She has also founded her own production company, served on the board of Ofcom and as chair of BAFTA Television, created the Children's BAFTA Awards and campaigns passionately for diversity.

Jake HopeJake Hope
Chair of the Youth Libraries Group

Jake Hope is a reading development and children's book consultant. He has chaired numerous book awards including the prestigious CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals and has judged nearly every major children's book award in the UK.

Alongside delivering training and international public speaking on books and reading, Jake is an active reviewer and a passionate advocate for libraries, books and reading.

James Mayhew

James Mayhew
Author and illustrator

From the best-selling Katie series, to Ella Bella Ballerina, Gaspard the Fox and now Mrs Noah's Pockets, James Mayhew has been creating books for children for 30 years.

James also works with a variety of musicians and symphony orchestras, developing and presenting classical concerts that incorporate traditional storytelling and art created live on stage. A passionate advocate of art, music, story and culture for children, James is in demand internationally as a speaker, performer and educator at museums and galleries, universities, and both literary and music festivals. He also tweets #BookIllustrationOfTheDay.

Joy CourtJoy Court
Reviews editor for The School Librarian journal

Joy Court is Reviews Editor for The School Librarian journal and Chair of the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals.

She previously managed the Schools Library Service in Coventry where she established the Coventry Inspiration Book Awards and the Literally Coventry Book Festival, but now she just concentrates on books and libraries as a freelance consultant. She is also a Trustee and member of the National Council of the United Kingdom Literacy Association, where she sits on the selection panel for the UKLA Book Awards, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and of The English Association.

Julia HaleJulia Hale
Librarian for over 20 years

Julia has been a librarian in local authorities for 20 years in Westminster, Dorset and Plymouth. She has worked in many roles, from Sure Start Outreach Officer to Young People's Services Manager, and she is currently Advisor for the Schools Library Service.

Part of her role involves training public library staff for sharing books with babies and under-5s at rhymetimes and storytimes, so she's always seeking out those books that are not only gorgeously illustrated and well produced, but also work brilliantly when read out loud.

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