BookTrust Storytime Prize 

This prize, which is now in its second year, celebrates and promotes the best books for sharing with young children and is run in association with the CILIP Youth Libraries Group.

We are delighted that the BookTrust Storytime Prize 2020 has been won by Libby Walden and Jacqui Lee for their book This Is Owl!

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

This playful, interactive book was voted for by families and librarians across the country as the best book for sharing with little ones.

Waterstones Children's Laureate Cressida Cowell, who helped to pick the Storytime Prize shortlist and announced the news during a virtual ceremony, described This Is Owl as 'a clever and original book with lovely illustrations', adding:

'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.'

Read the full news story

Get top tips for sharing stories from Storytime Prize judge Zoey Dixon

Enjoy Libby Walden reading This Is Owl below:

Celebrating the shortlisted books

There were six books in total nominated for the Storytime Prize this year. Alongside winner This Is Owl were:

  • B Is For Babyby Atinuke and Angela Brooksbank (Walker Books)
  • Go Go Pirate Boatby Katrina Charman and Nick Sharratt (Bloomsbury)
  • I Am A Tiger by Karl Newson and Ross Collins (Macmillan)
  • My Hair by Hannah Lee and Allen Fatimaharan (Faber Children's)
  • This Is Owl by Libby Walden and Jacqui Lee (Caterpillar Books)
  • 1, 2, 3 Do the Dinosaur by Michelle Robinson and Rosalind Beardshaw (Egmont)

BookTrust's CEO Diana Gerald said: 'BookTrust set up this prize to give credit to the wonderful authors and illustrators that create the books which give families so much pleasure, before children can read themselves or even talk.

'These are the books that will have families cuddled up on the sofa creating memories that last a lifetime, creating bonds and helping with emotional wellbeing, empathy and character development.

Read the full shortlist news story

Here, judge Cressida Cowell introduces the shortlist for us:

Cressida said: 'It was a pleasure to judge this award which celebrates the best book for sharing – and great to do it with such distinguished group of librarians together with an expert in early years education.

'Just ten minutes of reading together each day from the earliest age is hugely beneficial, not only for a child's language development and understanding, but for bonding as well: that's why being read to is on my Waterstones Children's Laureate Charter.
'Some of my favourite memories as a parent are reading aloud to my children. As sharing stories is so crucial, it's wonderful to have a prize that celebrates the quality of picture books currently being published.

'This is a very strong shortlist, and I'm glad it's not up to me to choose the final winner! One of the lovely aspects of this year's shortlist is how the books work across a whole range of ages, and will make for some really fun shared reading times. I always look for books that I connect with on an emotional level and each of these six books does so beautifully. Happy reading, everyone.'

Discover the shortlisted books

1, 2, 3, Do the Dinosaur by Michelle Robinson and Rosalind Beardshaw (Egmont)

1, 2, 3, Do the Dinosaur lets you follow along with toddler Tom as he teaches you how exactly to be a dinosaur! Little ones will love doing the actions and joining in.

Shortlist judge Amy McKay described 1, 2, 3, Do the Dinosaur as 'a perfect book for sharing', adding:

'With vibrant illustrations, a great rhythm and the opportunity for lots of interactivity, it's sure to have readers young and old roaring along.'

B Is For Baby by Atinuke and Angela Brooksbank (Walker Books)

B Is For Baby is a wonderful introduction to B words, and little ones will love sounding them all out - you'll go on a journey taking bananas to a bungalow on a bumpy bicycle!

Shortlist judge Tricia Adams explained why B Is For Baby got nominated, saying it is 'a vividly colourful story'.

'It's a joy to read and share with children, and there are so many things for the children to see in the illustrations. A deceptively simple story full of things to explore!

Go Go Pirate Boat by Katrina Charman and Nick Sharratt (Bloomsbury)

Sing along to the tune of 'Row, Row, Row Your Boat' as you join two pirates and their captain on their quest to find a treasure chest! Children will love following the adventure and having a singsong.

Katrina says she is 'thrilled' that Go, Go, Pirate Boat has been shortlisted, saying: 'BookTrust is such an important organization who work tirelessly to get books into the hands of young readers, so it is such an honour to be part of that.'

And Nick added: 'How wonderful that Go, Go Pirate Boat is on the BookTrust Storytime Prize 2020 shortlist! BookTrust is an amazing reading charity. I'm so delighted our book has been selected.'

I Am A Tiger by Karl Newson and Ross Collins (Macmillan)

A little mouse is convinced that they are a tiger - and they're telling everyone! But what will happen when a real tiger appears? Children will love giggling along with the mouse's powers of persuasion.

Karl said he is 'absolutely delighted' that the book has made the shortlist... and more importantly, 'Mouse is thrilled, too!'

'I love sharing stories, so to see our mouse-shaped tiger tale nominated for an award made especially for "best books for sharing with young children" is a dream come true.'

And Ross added: 'I am so delighted that I Am a Tiger has been shortlisted for this year's BookTrust Storytime Prize! Please be careful when sharing our book with tigers - they can get quite bitey.'

My Hair by Hannah Lee and Allen Fatimaharan (Faber Children's)

There's a celebration coming up... so it's time for some hair styling! But braids or a high-top fade? Dreads or a twist out? Little ones will love exploring all the options.

Shortlist judge Zoey Dixon praised My Hair, saying it is 'a joyous celebration of black hair and hairstyles that will be instantly recognisable'.

'The rhymes and wonderful illustrations will make this a book that you'll want to share again and again.'

Meet the judges

The Storytime Prize judging panel choose the shortlist online

This year's Storytime Prize shortlist judging was a little different! Our expert panel met on a video call to discuss the entries and narrow it down to a shortlist of just six. They are:

Amy McKay

Amy McKay was School Librarian of the Year in 2016-7. A familiar face at festivals and on judging panels, Amy makes regular appearances at Edinburgh and is the National Coordinator of the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway medals. She has judged numerous book awards, including the Blue Peter Book Awards and the Nibbies.

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

Tricia Adams

As a professional librarian with more years' experience than she cares to mention, Tricia has worked in several sectors including government libraries, as a self-employed information specialist, and also, her favourite role, working with children for over 20 years in her role as a children and young people's librarian. Tricia has been Principal Librarian for Children Schools and Families and Manager of the School's Library Service in Northamptonshire.

She was Director of the School Library Association between 2008-2018 and has been Chair of the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway judging panel and Youth Libraries Group twice. Tricia volunteers for the Federation of Children's Books (FCBG), is Chair of the newly formed Northamptonshire CBG, coordinates the FCBG's National Share A Story Month initiative and is a Trustee of the English Association. She also works with LoveReading4Schools and is an honorary fellow of CILIP and a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Cressida Cowell

Current Waterstones Children's Laureate Cressida Cowell is the number one bestselling author-illustrator of the How to Train Your Dragon and The Wizards of Once book series. How to Train Your Dragon is also an award-winning DreamWorks film franchise.

Cressida is an ambassador for the National Literacy Trust, a trustee for World Book Day and a founder patron of the Children's Media Foundation. She lives in Hammersmith with her husband, three children and a dog called Pigeon.

Jake Hope

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.

Shamim Khan

Shamim has been a teacher for over 20 years, working mainly with children from 3-7 years old. She has worked in three local authorities in the North and Midlands, and has always had a keen interest in developing language with children. As an Assistant Headteacher of Early Years she has looked strategically at the provision for language and she is currently working with Nottingham LA to review the offer of services across 0-4 year olds.

Shamim previously won the BookTrust partner award and has been invited on the panel to review the Treasure packs.

Zoey Dixon

Zoey Dixon has worked for Lambeth Libraries since she was 16, where she discovered she loved working with children. After completing her first degree she got a role as Children's and Young People's Librarian, working in four of the town centre libraries at various times over ten years. During this time Zoey cemented her love for children's literature. She is a firm believer in the power of books to make the world a better place, and has seen first hand the impact that giving a book to a child that represents them can have.

Zoey has served on the book selection panels for The Reading Agency's Summer Reading Challenge for five years and for BookTrust's Letterbox Club and is now a library manager for four community hub libraries. She continues to deliver frontline services to children and teens, such as class visits, baby rhyme times, and the Summer Reading Challenge and is currently on the judging panel for CILIP's Carnegie and Kate Book Awards and Vice-Chair of YLG (Youth Libraries Group) London.

Ben Lawrence

Ben manages Calderdale's Public Children's Library Service, sharing his passions for music and literature with the families in and around Halifax, West Yorkshire. He is also an Early Childhood methodology tutor for the British Kodály Academy, regularly presents at conferences and delivers training on using songs and rhymes for Children Centre and Early Years staff as well as Children's Library professionals.

He once spoke about the power of sharing songs, rhymes and stories at an MP's reception at the Houses of Parliament and more recently has recorded songs and rhymes for BookTrust.

Meet the regional judges

To find a winner, the six shortlisted books will be shared with hundreds of children, carers and families through virtual reading sessions by public librarians across the country between May and September.

11 librarians from all English regions, Wales and NI will be hosting storytime sessions online via Facebook Live and Zoom (until lockdown restrictions lift). The regional judges are:

  • East Midlands: Janet Winfield
  • Eastern: TBC
  • London: Zoey Dixon
  • North East: Suzy Hill
  • North West: Amanda Childs
  • Northern Ireland: Valerie Christie
  • South East: Claire Groves
  • South West: Deborah Averill
  • Wales: Sioned Jacques
  • West Midlands: Mandy Crilly
  • Yorkshire: Ben Lawrence

Discover the 2019 BookTrust Storytime Prize

Looking for information about the 2019 prize, which was won by Emily Gravett for her book Cyril and Pat?

Find it all here

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BookTrust Hometime

Looking for something fun as a family? Enjoy storytime with our free online books and videos, play games, win prizes, test your knowledge in our book-themed quizzes, or even learn how to draw some of your favourite characters.

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