Shortlist for 2018 Educational Writers’ Award

27 November 2018

The Society of Authors and the Authors’ Licensing & Collecting Society are delighted to announce the shortlist for the 2018 Educational Writers’ Award, the UK’s only award for educational writing that stimulates and enhances the learning experience.

The five outstanding books for readers aged 11-18 years on this year’s shortlist explain the importance of sanitation, demystify coding, chart the history of painting, and illuminate the lives and minds of migrants, and LGBTQ+ people.

Now in its eleventh year, the Educational Writers’ Award was established in 2008 by the Authors’ Licensing & Collecting Society (ALCS) and the Society of Authors (SoA), 'to celebrate educational writing that inspires creativity and encourages students to read widely and build up their understanding of a subject beyond the requirements of exam specifications'. The 2017 winner was The Book of Bees, written by Wojciech Grajkowski, illustrated by Piotr Socha, and translated by Agnes Monod-Gayraud.

The 2018 Award focuses on books for 11-18-year-olds, published in 2016 & 2017. This year’s judges are: Philip Arkinstall, a curriculum leader for History in a Wiltshire secondary school; Elspeth Graham, a prolific author of both fiction and non-fiction for children; and Océane Toffoli, a senior school librarian and Vice-Chair of CILIP YLG London.

The winner of the 2018 Educational Writers’ Award will be announced at the
All Party Writers Group (APWG) Winter Reception at the House of Commons on Tuesday 4 December. The winning author/illustrator will receive a cheque for £2,000.

The 2018 shortlist

LOOS SAVE LIVES: How Sanitation & Clean Water Help Prevent Poverty, Disease & Death
Author: Seren Boyd
(Publisher: Wayland)

Packed full of stats and facts about water and waste, this is a book about the importance of the humble loo, published in association with Toilet Twinning (, a charity that empowers people in low income countries to build proper toilets and help make their communities healthier, safer and more prosperous. Visiting some of the places the charity has worked in, it explains why children who have access to a safe, clean loo at school are more likely to stay in education, get better jobs and escape poverty.

Our judges said: "Managing to be both light-hearted and serious, this is an unusual and taboo-breaking book about a very real problem faced by the 2.4 billion people who don’t have somewhere safe to go to the toilet. It provides an inventive and exciting way to engage children with issues surrounding hygiene and clean water across Africa, Asia and parts of South America."

How To Think Like A Coder... Without Even Trying!
Author: Jim Christian
Illustrator: Paul Boston
(Publisher: Batsford)

Computers are all around us, from traffic lights to cash machines – it just takes a little common sense to work out what makes them tick, says this bright illustrated guide, which shows that you don’t need to have computing experience to know how to code. Full of puzzles and exercises suitable for all ages that will help you think logically, work within constraints and deconstruct problems, it turns everyday situations into opportunities for coding.

Our judges said: "This step-by-step guide for absolute beginners does exactly what it says on the cover, introducing key concepts in a very straightforward and accessible way. Offering a fine balance between information and fabulous illustrations, this colourful book provides a wonderful, rather substantial taster to a subject on the rise."

From Prejudice to Pride: A History of the LBGTQ+ Movement
Author: Amy Lamé
(Publisher: Wayland)

An illuminating account of the rise and achievements of the LGBTQ+ movement for equal rights: the various communities and pioneers that have emerged, and the stories of heartbreak and courage that have unfolded alongside it, by London’s Night Czar. From the trial of Oscar Wilde and the Stonewall riots, to the AIDS crisis and same-sex marriage, it gives insights into shifting attitudes that have challenged lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, which also help us understand what it is to be LGBTQ+ today.

Our judges said: "This gripping history of different communities and their stories of persecution, courage and determination is a brilliant introduction to LGBTQ+ issues, offering young people the chance to ask questions about sexuality and gender and to learn about movements around the world which work to protect rights and freedoms of expression. A much-needed reference on a topical subject, especially in the light of recent research by Stonewall which indicates that homophobic bullying remains an issue in schools."

The Story of Paintings: A History of Art for Children
Author/Illustrator: Mick Manning & Brita Granström
(Publisher: Franklin Watts)

This imaginative introduction to art history for children takes readers on a journey through time from Stone Age cave art to the graffiti-inspired work of Jean-Michel Basquiat. It takes in Rembrandt, Picasso, Turner, Frida Kahlo, Kalan Khan, Laura Knight and many others along the way, telling the stories behind the paintings and their creators.

Our judges said: "This ambitious and inspiring large-format book focuses on paintings that the authors themselves love and their enthusiasm infuses this personal and rich introduction to art history. Beautifully constructed and visually appealing, each double page spread provides readers with an opportunity to delve into a new time period and a new style of artwork."

Far From Home: Refugees and Migrants Fleeing War, Persecution & Poverty
Author: Cath Senker
(Publisher: Franklin Watts)

This richly illustrated book examines the root causes of mass migrations of people due to war, extreme poverty and persecution, explaining some of the specific conflicts, political situations and cultural issues that dominate the headlines surrounding refugees and migrants in the 21st century. It includes first-hand accounts of everything from life in refugee camps to finding a new home in safe countries.

Our judges said: "This heart-breaking and powerful book takes a thoughtful and relevant look at a subject we all need to understand and care about. Never giving in to media stereotypes, it provides a clear and compassionate start to discussions about the plight of refugees, highlighting individual experiences and presenting different viewpoints in an impeccably non-judgmental way."