What Kids are Reading Quiz Writers’ Choice Awards: The Winners!
By Ruth Atkinson
We’ve announced the winners of our What Kids Are Reading 2021 Quiz Writers’ Choice Awards!
What Kids Are Reading is the largest annual study of the reading habits and trends of students across the UK and Ireland, using data from a variety of sources including Renaissance Accelerated Reader data. Accelerated Reader is a reading practice programme allowing students to take comprehension quizzes on books they’ve read.
We see the same titles and authors crop up in the report’s ‘Most Read’ and ‘Most Popular’ lists every year (looking at you, J. K. Rowling), which is why we created the Quiz Writers’ Choice Awards: as an opportunity for us to highlight the books we liked the best. Last year, we added nearly 2,000 quizzes to Accelerated Reader, so there were a lot of titles to choose from! Take a look at the longlist and the shortlist, if you haven’t already – and keep reading to find out who the winners are! And don’t forget – you can click here to download your free copy of the What Kids Are Reading Report.
Primary Fiction Winner
A Kind of Spark by Elle McNicoll
Published by Knights Of
“Addie is an autistic girl living in a Scottish village. On learning about its historic witch trials, she sets out to memorialise its victims who were targeted for being different – just as she is. Addie’s courage and perseverance to make herself heard kept me turning the pages, and I came away from this having learned so much. Heartbreaking at times, this was easily one of the best books I read all year and needs to be celebrated. I can’t wait to read more from Elle McNicoll!”
– Peter, Assistant Editor
Author Elle McNicoll said:
“This was such a surprise!! Got weirdly emotional!! Huge love to all other nominees and everyone involved!”
Primary Non-Fiction Winner
Pride In… series by Emilie Dufresne, illustrated by Danielle Rippengill
Published by BookLife
“The Pride In… series is filled with amazing and brave people from all across the globe that will inspire children. From topics like sport and STEM, these books cover the entire LGBTQ+ community. I loved learning about Team GB heroes Helen and Kate Richardson-Walsh and activist Barbara Jordan. So many incredible lives! I also appreciated how the books broke down many terms for younger children.”
– Liz, Content Developer
Author Emilie Dufresne said:
“Absolutely can’t believe this. Danielle and I just won this amazing award. Thank you so much! So proud!”
Secondary Fiction Winner
The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta, illustrated by Anshika Khullar
Published by Hodder Children’s Books
“The Black Flamingo is the story of a young mixed-race boy, Michael. The book follows him from birth to his drag debut in university. We get to see his pain and growth as he explores and comes to terms with his identity. Atta’s poetry is moving and full of heart. A coming-of-age novel that will truly change lives.”
– Krista, Editor
Author Dean Atta and illustrator Anshika Khullar said:
“Thank you to the Quiz Writers’ Choice Award for the honour of recognising The Black Flamingo on such a strong shortlist. It’s wonderful to see people paying attention to this Black queer story. We hope you find as much comfort reading Michael’s journey to self-acceptance and self-love as we did writing and illustrating it. We hope The Black Flamingo reaches everyone who needs it, and we hope this award will bring more eyes, ears and hearts to our book.”
Secondary Non-Fiction Winner
Black and British: A short, essential history by David Olusoga
Published by Macmillan Children’s Books
“Black and British: A short, essential history was one of the most important books I’ve read for work this year – and probably ever. It is a version made for children of the book, Black and British: A Forgotten History, and provides readers with the rare opportunity of gaining an introduction into the history of Black people in Britain for the last 1800 years, a history that has been overlooked for far too long.”
– Sarah, Senior Editor
Author David Olusoga said:
“I am delighted to be nominated for this award especially as I never thought I would ever be a writer of children’s books. I first wrote Black & British: A Forgotten History, five years ago for adult readers but after the momentous events of the Black Lives Matter Movement last year I thought this could be adapted to speak to a younger generation, a generation who is keen to make change and are open to learn.
“The last year has been a notoriously difficult time for children. Reading has become more important than ever during the pandemic, a place of escape. But also it’s clear that children want to understand the issues and the history behind the events of Black Lives Matter and not shy away from the facts. It is, after all, young people not that much older than them who are the driving force behind this great moment of cultural and political change. We need to make books engaging and relevant to young people, to reflect their lives, curiosities and interests. I’m so pleased with the reaction Black & British: A Short Essential History has had and I’m grateful to have a chance to speak to young people through my writing.”
Outstanding Achievement Award Winner
We also present a Outstanding Achievement award every year to recognise the contribution an author has made to children’s literature and encouraging children to read for pleasure. This year, we were very happy to present this award to… Malorie Blackman!
Malorie Blackman said:
“I am honoured and so delighted to receive this year’s Renaissance Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award. I understand that this particular award is presented to someone who has made a significant contribution to children’s books and is also a passionate advocate for reading for pleasure. Well, I’m certainly the latter – and I’m honoured that I have been considered the former. I feel particularly lucky and blessed to have spent the last 30 years doing a job I love so much. I love the way that writing books has afforded me the opportunity to communicate and connect with so many others. So from the bottom of my heart, thank you.”
Watch the awards ceremony as it unfolded on Zoom – including some very moving acceptance speeches! Download the recording here.