Broadcaster Gabby Logan and award-winning children's author Sharna Jackson are among the judges announced for this year's Royal Society Young People's Book Prize, worth £10,000.
The prize celebrates the best science books for under-14s and this year will be chaired by volcanologist Professor Katharine Cashman, a fellow of the Royal Society who has studied volcanoes on all seven continents. She will also be joined by primary school teacher and part-time writer Robin James and chemist Dr Andy Jupp, a Royal Society research fellow.
The judges must whittle down a longlist of more than 50 titles to select the year’s six best science books for children. The six, revealed mid-September, will each receive £2,500. Then the baton will be handed over to thousands of schoolchildren across the UK to decide the £10,000 winner. Last year, more than 13,000 young judges from 500 schools and youth groups took part to vote for their favourite science book, and this year there have been even more applications from schools to take part.
With the UK hosting the United Nations climate summit, COP26, in November, the judges said this year also marks a critical time to get young people engaged and interested in science.
Professor Cashman said: “Learning about science can take you from the highest volcano to the bottom of the ocean,” she said. “Science is a fascinating topic, and these books break down the latest discoveries and get young people excited to start their own journeys.”
Jackson, whose debut novel High-Rise Mystery (Knights Of) won the Best Book for Younger Readers category of the Waterstones Children’s Books Prize 2020, added: “It is a pleasure and a privilege to spend time with all these amazing books. I am inspired to see how science books about potentially difficult concepts are becoming more accessible.”
Logan commented: “I did not consider myself a ‘science-y’ kid. I think a lot of that had to do with the kind of books on offer in the 1980s; they were so much more like heavy duty textbooks. I was blown away by the books this year, the variety of styles, and the use of art and design to engage was so creative. I might have considered myself a science-y kid if these were the kind of books available back then.”
Last year's winner was Izzi Howell's Cats React to Science Facts (Hachette Children's Group).