This shortlist draws heavily on themes which dominated the public conversation in 2020, covering topics such as systematic racism, isolation, hope and (a major one for parents) the constant task of keeping children entertained at home. Despite the timely topics, all of these books have the potential to become future classics.
Black and British: A short, essential history
Macmillan Children's Books
A children’s version of David Olusoga’s Black and British: A Forgotten History was initially acquired by Pan Macmillan Children’s Books in January 2020. Just six months later, Olusoga approached the publisher and asked if it could bring a new, third version to market in response to the Black Lives Matter protests that took place around the world: and as a result, in September last year, Black and British: A Short, Essential History went to print.
Olusoga skilfully tracks 1,800 years of Black British history, from the presence of Africans in Britain during the Roman period right up to the present day. “A really important subject addressed in an accessible and straightforward manner, which clearly resonates with young people,” praised one judge.
The publisher impressively secured broadcast, radio, print and online media marketing, including children’s TV and a serialisation in the Times. It also partnered with The Black Curriculum to ensure the book’s success, pledging to donate funds from each sale to the social enterprise.
What led the title to triumph in this category, though, was the judges’ confidence in its ability to challenge misconceptions, evolve public discourse and start a conversation around the true and complete history of the UK.
David Olusoga in conversation with Will Rycroft
Kay's Anatomy by Adam Kay & Henry PakerPuffin
I'm Sticking With You by Smriti Halls & Steve SmallSimon & Schuster Children's Books
Draw With Rob by Rob BiddulphHarperCollins Children's Books
Black and British: A short, essential history by David OlusogaMacmillan Children's Books
The Lost Spells by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie MorrisHamish Hamilton
The Book of Hopes by Katherine Rundell (ed)Bloomsbury Children's Books