Information Book Award 2023 by Margaret Pemberton
Whilst this month has been a celebration of National Non-Fiction November, which is supported by FCBG, it has also been the month in which we announce the winners of this year’s Information Book Award. The Awards were set up in 2011 by the SLA, as a result of the vision of Chris Brown (then reviews editor of the School Librarian), because he felt more needed to be done to promote information books. He wrote a fascinating article about the first few years of the award in the IbbyLink journal https://www.ibby.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/ibbylink40-summer2014.pdf.
I have been honoured to be part of the process since 2019 and am constantly delighted by the quality of books which are put forward for the judges to look at. This year has seen a huge number of entries, approximately 180 titles, across the three categories. The majority of them are for the two lower age ranges and it would be good to see more books for teens (13-16 years) being nominated. The process itself is something of a continuous loop; the books are nominated by their publishers and sent to the SLA by the end of December. The judges then receive their boxes of books at the end of January or early February. That is when the real work begins; we start off with a short online meeting where the judges remind themselves of the criteria and the actual timeline for the awards. If there are new judges, they will have been sent detailed briefing notes, so that they are ready and able to take an active role in the deliberations. As with all awards there is a schedule to gradually whittle down a long-list, short-list and then finally the winners. The whole process is completed by July; however, the shortlists are chosen in May/June, so that the Children’s Choice element of the awards can get started. The judging process is the main element of being a judge, but we also ask the team to write short ‘blurbs’ for the long-listed books and then slightly longer comments about the shortlisted titles. This enables the readers to have a better understanding of what qualities the judges have found in the chosen books.
Schools and groups across the country can read the shortlisted titles and make their own choices about the winners. Over the last few years, the SLA have been able to offer packs of specific age ranges to schools, which has definitely widened the ability of schools to take part. This process starts before the end of the summer term and finishes at the end of term 1, at the end of October; hopefully this gives everyone time to really get to know the books.
The ceremony itself will take place at Hachette’s offices on Thursday 23rd November. Members of the SLA are able to attend, as well as authors, illustrators, publishers and educators. There is usually a great deal of excitement as the guest speaker, this year it is the wonderful Rashmi Sirdeshpande, announces both the judges’ winners and the children’s choice winners. My highlight is when I am able to announce the overall winners, chosen by the adults and the children. All of this information has been very secret and will be announced on social media when the event is happening.
The shortlists for this year are
I am a Mathematician
Do Bears Poop in the Wood?
Big Book of Mysteries
Lands of Belonging
World full of Journeys and Migrations
Masterpieces in pieces
And the winners, announced this afternoon are….
Congratulations to the winners of this brilliant book award celebrating non-fiction titles!