The Importance of Awards for Non-fiction

Being shortlisted for a prestigious award is always an honour for the book, author and publisher. It is also important that non-fiction is recognised and commended as highly as fiction. It’s even more exciting when people who enjoy DK’s books are involved in the judging including children’s, teachers and librarians, which is why DK is delighted that this year two of our books have been shortlisted for outstanding non-fiction awards: My Encyclopedia of Very Important Things for The School Library Association Under 7’s Information Book Award, which is announced today (22nd November), and Home Lab by Robert Winston, which has won The Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize. This is the third year running that DK have won the prize and marks 13 wins in total at the same awards.

My Encyclopedia of Very Important Things – SLA Information Award

When you are little, everything in the world is very important. Everything is exciting and new and it’s difficult to decide what to find out about first. This very special encyclopedia means that there is no need to choose.

What is very important to us is that little learners love our books. But to get them into their hands, we need the help of book lovers and librarians – so when My Encyclopedia of Very Important Things was nominated for the SLA Under 7’s Information Book Award, we were delighted. Being nominated for this award reinforces the need for kids to keep asking questions, seeking information, and finding all the answers they need. Where is the hottest place in the world? How tall can a sunflower grow? Are purple carrots real? What colour is topaz? All the answers are in these pages.

This book is made for a very important person, and that is the child who reads it. With a section entitled ‘Very important things about me’, little readers will understand that their body is an amazing machine, that their brains can do dozens of things at once, and that everyone’s emotions matter. By understanding just how important they are, we hope that young readers will be inspired to keep learning – and doing – wonderful things.

“What the judges say:

A lovely bright layout, combining excellent photos and quirky illustrations offers an appealing setting for the text. There are plenty of facts on each page, laid out clearly and using simple, accessible language. There is something to interest everyone here, from dinosaurs to clouds, music to habitats. This is a lovely browser that offers something new every time it is picked up.”

The Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize for Home Lab by Robert Winston

A few months before we got cracking on this book, we knew that Home Lab was going to be a challenge: our team wanted to create the perfect combination of simple instructions and bright, exciting photography. More than anything, we wanted young people to not just read about science, but also do science. Benjamin Franklin once said, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn”. This book instills that practical philosophy into 28 fun science experiments with basic materials found around the home, including making some truly gooey slime, cheap yet effective smartphone speakers, and a surprisingly strong bridge using lollipop sticks.

When Home Lab was shortlisted alongside five other remarkable books for the Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize, we were obviously thrilled. Now, 300 groups of young people throughout the country will get a chance to vote for a book that places considered thought over hearsay, reasoning over rumour. We did not make this book for awards, of course, but what this nomination represents is a recognition of the importance of science in the lives of children. Afterall, today’s young people are tomorrow’s scientists. A cleaner, safer environment requires an understanding of sustainable energy; the construction of a new building is only possible with a knowledge of materials and engineering; and an aeroplane will fly when optimised for airflow using a streamlined design. These endeavours are possible only through the acquisition and application of scientific concepts.

Home Lab tries to kickstart that process – to get kids, girls and boys, asking questions and urging them to think creatively and critically. In this way, it is truly satisfying to be greeted by a panel of judges who also believe in the necessity of science as a way to build a better and more thoughtful world.

As the editor of this book and also an optimistic parent, I am hopeful that great reference books (and not just these six nominated titles) will open up doors to new possibilities. A world in which Benjamin Franklin – himself a great scientist – would proudly look upon with a sense of wonder and head-scratching awe.

This guest post was written by Poppy Izzard, Claire Morrison, and Ashwin Khurana. The views expressed do not necessarily represent those of the FCBG.



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