This year we are excited to launch our very own Badger Book Awards, designed to encourage reading for pleasure and champion incredible books. We’ve shortlisted fifty titles from 2022, splitting them into the top 10 titles for Years 7 to 11. 

Each vote submitted gives you a chance to win £500 worth of books for your secondary school! The author of each winning category will also be given £500 worth of books to donate to a UK school of their choice.

VOTING ENDS SOON! 3Oth June 2023

Do book awards matter?

Book awards are important for many reasons, with the most significant being that they encourage people to read. Ofsted's Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman said “the ability to read is a fundamental life skill” yet 25% of Year 7’s have a reading age of below 11. Research also shows that reading for pleasure is in decline, which is worrying when we know that it is the main contributor to academic success, as well as social and emotional wellbeing. Anne Fine states “there are so many calls on young people's attention. But reading remains the simplest and best way to furnish minds — and so, of course, enrich futures.” It is widely recognised that the importance of reading in secondary school is paramount. Participating in an awards process is a fantastic and exciting way to encourage and motivate your students to pick up a book.

Book awards also matter because they are a useful tool to raise awareness of fantastic recently published books and the Badger Book Awards are no exception. At Badger Learning we work hard to keep up to date with what themes are on trend, which books deliver on literary merit, emotional engagement and, what title will be the next #booktok big thing. Librarians and teachers tell us how helpful this is in maximising their time, so they are free to place the right book in a student’s hands, create displays, run reading groups and find new ways to inspire students to read for pleasure.

Jennifer Lynn Alvarez sums up perfectly why book awards matter in this video:


What book awards are given for children’s literature?

The Badger Book Awards are not the only awards that you can use to encourage reading in your secondary school. The Yoto Carnegie is probably one of the most prestigious and well-known awards (longlist announced February, shortlist announced March, winner announced June) but there are many more you could choose to shadow.

Examples include:

  • The YA Book Prize for teenagers and young adults — Shortlist announced June, winner announced August.
  • The Diverse Book Awards — Longlist announced July, shortlist announced September, winner announced October.
  • The Excelsior Award for graphic novels and manga — Shortlist announced December, winner announced July.
  • The Waterstones Book Prize — Shortlist announced February, winner announced March.
  • The Wainwright Prize for children’s nature and conservation writing — Longlist announced June, shortlist announced July, winner announced September.
  • The Branford Boase Award for an outstanding first novel to a first-time writer of a book for young people — Longlist announced January, shortlist announced April, winner announced July.
  • The Lollies for funniest books of the year — Shortlist announced January, winner announced February.
  • The Scottish Teenage Book Prize — Shortlist announced September, winner announced May.

Why start another book award?

Badger Learning’s aim has always been to help teachers and librarians empower the next generation by instilling a lifelong love of literature. But this is easier said than done. We are one of very few awards that are people’s choice – so anyone can vote! And even more unique is that we specifically focus on secondary schools, broken down by year group. We have made this distinction because a powerful book for a Year 7 student is not always what a Year 11 would choose to engage with. And, vice versa, you certainly wouldn’t want a gritty young adult novel being picked up by an eleven-year-old.

The Badger Book Awards are specifically aimed at secondary schools to help create excitement around books at an age when there are so many other distractions for pupils. Books seem to lose their place in pupil’s lives when they hit secondary, and an awards process, where they can actively interact and influence the results, is a perfect way to remind pupils how exciting and gratifying books can be. Our free resources are just a starting point for how librarians can promote the awards, as well as a general love of books and storytelling. Reading, discussing, reviewing, and voting will all help in motivating your students to read for pleasure.


How were the books shortlisted?

These titles in the shortlists have been read page-for-page and selected on the basis of the following criteria:

  • They are well-written, original stories that offer a unique reading experience and leave an impression. Some books contain what would be considered quality “literary” narratives with powerful language, whilst others are filled with dazzling imagination, emotive and thought-provoking themes or intricate world building.
  • Windows and mirrors — each title offers a well-crafted read featuring either a relatable story where the reader can see themselves reflected in the story (a mirror) or an opportunity to see inside a life experience that is outside of their own (a window). Both are crucial in helping students develop a sense of self, as well as empathy and understanding for others.
  • There are themes of inclusion, and where diversity is present the representation is authentic.
  • The plotlines and themes are all relevant to the age of the pupil, and any conflict or problem is always resolved by the end of the book.
  • If any sensitive issues are examined, there are the relevant helplines and information points signposted within the book.

We have chosen the year grouping category which we feel is a best fit for each title due to the themes, language, and sophistication of the text. However, these are not exclusive, and the chosen books can be enjoyed by a range of ages. Content guidance is available for every collection which contains further detail on the subjects within the book, highlighting anything that may be taken issue with such as strong language or sex references.

Voting ends on the 30th of June and the winners will be announced on the 13th of September.


How can my school/students take part in the Badger Book Awards?

There are plenty of ways to take part and they are all easy!

  • Read and vote! Read the shortlists below and vote for your favourites here. Remember, every time someone from your school votes, the chances of your school winning £500 worth of books increases!
  • Shadowing — will your school be able to predict every category winner?
  • Download our free resources including posters, voting cards, comment cards and a reading tracker. These are ideal for library displays & discussions. New resources will be available throughout the year.
  • Create a library display — use our free posters to create a visually engaging and exciting library display. Recommendations and direct quotes from students can be added as time goes on, with word of mouth being one of the top reasons a teenager will pick up a book!
  • Interact on social media — We will be promoting the awards on Twitter until summer, including author videos, signed book giveaways, and other competitions. We would love to hear if you are taking part in the awards, use the hashtag #badgerbookawards and tag us at @badgerlearning.


What books have been shortlisted for the Badger Book Awards 2023?

Best New Book for Year 7 Shortlist

  • Be Brave, Maple Mehta-Cohen! by Kate McGovern
  • The Elemental Detectives by Patrice Lawrence
  • If You Read This by Kereen Getten
  • The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera
  • Locked Out Lily by Nick Lake
  • Looking for Emily by Fiona Longmuir
  • The Mountain Rescue Dog by Juliette Forrest
  • My Friend the Octopus by Lindsay Galvin
  • The Ogress & the Orphans by Kelly Barnhill
  • Theodosia & the Serpents of Chaos by Robin LaFevers

Book Covers for the Best New Book for Year 7 Shortlist

Purchase the Year 7 shortlist collection here


Best New Book for Year 8 Shortlist

  • All the Pieces of Me by Libby Scott & Rebecca Westcott
  • Fake by Ele Fountain
  • Furthermoor by Darren Simpson
  • Hazel Hill is Gonna Win This One by Maggie Horne
  • The House of Shells by Efua Traore
  • The Mystery of Raspberry Hill by Eva Frantz
  • The Reluctant Vampire Queen by Jo Simmons
  • Running Out of Time by Simon Fox
  • The Shark & the Scar by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald
  • When I See Blue by Lily Bailey

Book Covers for the Best New Book for Year 8 Shortlist

Purchase the Year 8 shortlist collection here


Best New Book for Year 9 Shortlist

  • Alice Austen Lived Here by Alex Gino
  • The Balloon Thief by Aneesa Marufu
  • Beasts of Prey by Ayana Gray
  • Big Bad Me by Aislinn O’Loughlin
  • Once Upon a Fever by Angharad Walker
  • Rebel Skies by Ann Sei Lin
  • Run For Your Life by Jane Mitchell
  • The Stranded by Sarah Daniels
  • Tremendous Things by Susin Nielsen
  • Waking the Witch by Rachel Burge

Book Covers for the Best New Book for Year 9 Shortlist

Purchase the Year 9 shortlist collection here


Best New Book for Year 10 Shortlist

  • Aftershocks by Anne Fine
  • The Bone Spindle by Leslie Vedder
  • Confessions of an Alleged Good Girl by Joya Goffney
  • A Far Wilder Magic by Allison Saft
  • The First Thing About You by Chaz Hayden
  • Friends Don’t Tell by Grace Barrett & Nadia Mendoza
  • Let Down Your Hair by Bryony Gordon
  • Master of Iron by Tricia Levenseller
  • Meet Me in Mumbai by Sabina Khan
  • Sixteen Souls by Rosie Talbot

Book Covers for the Best New Book for Year 10 Shortlist

Purchase the Year 10 shortlist collection here


Best New Book for Year 11 Shortlist

  • All That’s Left in the World by Erik J Brown
  • Cuts Both Ways by Candice Brathwaite
  • The Eternal Return of Clara Hart by Louise Finch
  • Friends Like These by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez
  • The Getaway by Lamar Giles
  • Hope Nicely’s Lessons for Life by Caroline Day
  • Man Down by James Goodhand
  • Mermaid Moon by Susann Cokal
  • Something Certain, Maybe by Sara Barnard
  • We Were Wolves by Jason Cockcroft

Book Covers for the Best New Book for Year 11 Shortlist

Purchase the Year 11 shortlist collection here


Vote for your favourites here before 30th June 2023