Daynes scoops SLA Information Book Award for 'gentle' book on why things die

Daynes scoops SLA Information Book Award for 'gentle' book on why things die

Katie Daynes' Why Do Things Die? (Usborne), illustrated by Christine Pym, has been announced as the overall winner of the School Library Association (SLA) Information Book Award for its “gentle, non-judgemental” tone on "a rare topic" for young readers.

The award is now in its 11th year, and aims to emphasise the "importance of non-fiction by highlighting and celebrating the high standard of children’s information books available" as well as ensuring that all school staff are equipped to support students through access to the titles. The award is sponsored by partners Hachette Children’s Book Group and school library supplier Peters.

They are divided into three age categories and judged by a panel of educators against a criteria that looks at the quality of the text and illustrations, accuracy and bias alongside areas such as indexes, glossaries, content and whether it is likely to fire the enthusiasm of the young reader. As well as the judges’ choices, children also had the opportunity to vote for their favourite from the shortlist of 11 titles, determining an additional Children’s Choice winner in each age category. 

This year's winners were announced at a virtual ceremony on 25th November. Daynes (pictured) was also the winner of the 0–7 age category and Why Do Things Die? was praised by judges for its lift-the-flap format that provides “additional depth and relatability to the examples and discussion points within”. 

The winner of the 8–12 age category was How Many Mice Make an Elephant? by Tracey Turner, illustrated by Aaron Cushley (Pan Macmillan), which the judges praised as “guaranteed to engage even the most reluctant of young mathematicians”, making it “the perfect choice for classrooms or school libraries".

In the 13–16 category, Have Pride by Stella Caldwell and Sue Sanders (Welbeck Publishing) won, with judges hailing it as “a valuable resource for research, an uplifting leisure read, and an affirming and informative guide for young people examining their own identities”.

The SLA provided book packages of the shortlist to 24 schools in order to help more get involved in the award. Following the votes from children across the UK, Why Do Things Die? secured its third win as the Children’s Choice Winner in the 0-7 category. The Children’s Choice winner for both the 8–12 category and Overall Winner is I Am Not a Label by Cerrie Burnell, illustrated by Lauren "Emel" Baldo (Wide Eyed Editions), described as "an ideal tool for broadening horizons and supporting the development of empathy". Finally, This Book is Anti-Racist by Tiffany Jewell and illustrated by Aurélia Durand (Frances Lincoln), won the Children’s Choice for the 13–16 age category.

The Hachette Children’s Group Award for Outstanding Contribution to Information Books award went to author Anita Ganeri. The SLA described her as "a true champion for children’s non-fiction" adding: "If you see her name on the cover of a book, then you know that it will be accurate and suitable for the suggested age range. For teachers and librarians, her name is a guarantee that you will be adding quality to your book collections."

SLA c.e.o. Alison Tarrant, said: "I am delighted that the winner this year is for our youngest age range. There can often be an assumption that the younger the reader the less that is required, but this is not the case. Why Do Things Die? is a shining example of how to deliver information to readers with the utmost respect and care for them. Children’s books are vital in supporting the reader through developments which, in many cases, will live with them for their whole lives. I am proud that the Information Book Award not only showcases so many wonderful examples, but also supports schools in engaging with them." 

Hilary Murray Hill, c.e.o. of Hachette Children’s Group, added: “Children and young people are faced with deluge of factual content, some of it unreliable or inappropriate, so clear, trustworthy and appealing non-fiction for children at all stages of development is more important than ever. We are delighted to be supporting the SLA Information Book Award again this year, celebrating the highest standards in the presentation of information, as well as the imagination and creativity of authors, illustrators, editors and designers. The best quality non-fiction publishing is irreplaceable in the lives and learning journeys of young readers and we are proud to play this part in helping it to thrive.” 

Submissions for the 2022 Information Book Award are now open. For more details on eligibility criteria and how to submit, click here.