Bookbuzz: Behind the Scenes

Published on: 06 June 2021 Author: Bookbuzz

A lot of thought goes into choosing the 17 Bookbuzz books each year, and we’re really excited about the final list for 2021. We thought it would be interesting to give a bit of insight into how the books are chosen each year.

Bookbuzz 2021 books

Who chooses the books?

Bookbuzz books are chosen by an independent panel of experts. The panel includes school librarians, teachers and other children’s reading experts. The panellists are chosen for their experience, knowledge and passion for getting children reading. Every panel is different, and panel members come from different parts of the country, both rural and urban, and with differing experience and expertise and perspectives.

BookTrust believes every child has the right to access books, so five of the seventeen books are chosen with specific consideration for children with additional needs, in consultation with a separate panel of special educational needs experts.

How do they choose the books?

Publishers are invited to recommend books for the programme – we often receive as many as 200 books each year for Bookbuzz! BookTrust experts create a longlist from these submissions. Each panellist then reads a selection of the longlist, twenty books each, and they have around 8 weeks to do so – that’s a lot of reading for just two months!

Then comes the selection meeting: all the panel members meet as group with the team at BookTrust to discuss the books they’ve been reading. What they liked, what they didn’t like, what they think students will love, and which books they recommend for the final Bookbuzz list. It’s a lot of fun and there are some great debates, especially when different panellists have different opinions on the same book! Through these discussions and debates, the longlist is narrowed to the final titles.

What the panellists say:

“Selection day is a lot of fun! Whether face-to-face or via Zoom, the day is a chance to debate and discuss the books with fellow panellists and to learn a lot about the other genres and books represented.”

“It is exciting to be on the panel and also exciting to see who else is on the panel with you and everyone's different experiences and opinions about what these books should be and do for young readers.”

“I was overjoyed to have been invited to be part of the panel this year; it was an honour. There were some great titles to choose from and it was tough to cut them down to a shortlist.”

Check out this year's books

What do they look for?

The books are carefully chosen to make sure there is something to suit all interests and reading levels, from keen readers to uninterested ones, and advanced readers to those for whom accessing books is a real challenge.

We asked panellists why they think they think having access to reading choice is important:

“Reading widely and for pleasure in Y7 and Y8 stands you in excellent stead for future studies and embeds a lifelong love of reading and books regardless of what you go on to do in life. It helps you learn more about yourself, about others, and how to navigate and try to understand the world around you.”
“If you can get a reading habit ingrained at 11 you stand a much better chance of making them life-long readers. Being able to present them with a good book, which they have chosen, when they first come to school is one of my favourite jobs.”
“There is a lot of discussion about how children's reading begins to tail off at this age and so I feel like Bookbuzz is a great opportunity to keep children reading and identifying the best books to do that.”
“Our students love Bookbuzz. What a great way to get a book into the hands of the students who need it most.”

How can I get involved?

You could apply to be on next year’s selection panel!

Topics: Bookbuzz, Features


Bookbuzz is a reading programme from BookTrust that aims to help schools inspire a love of reading in 11 to 13-year-olds. Participating schools give their students the opportunity to choose their own book to take home and keep from a list of 16 titles.

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