BOOKWORMS across Oxfordshire are being asked to put their heads together to help pick the winners of this year’s Oxfordshire Book Awards.
For the fifth year running, schoolchildren across the county are being invited to vote for their favourite books.
Twenty-eight primary schools and 28 secondary schools in Oxfordshire are taking part in the awards, which were created to get children enthusiastic about reading.
A shortlist, voted on by youngsters, has been drawn up, and now children in each school are trying to decide where to cast their vote.
Jacky Atkinson, who set up the awards with Burford School librarian Lynne Cooper, said: “All the children are really very busy reading all the books.
“They have all been sent copies of the books and some of the schools have bought their own copies too.”
The awards come at a time when there is a heightened focus on reading with the Oxford Mail-backed Oxfordshire Reading Campaign, which is aimed at increasing reading skills and fostering a love of books.
Ms Atkinson and Mrs Cooper have expressed their support for the campaign.
The authors nominated range from well-known writers such as Jacqueline Wilson, to local stars such as Eva Ibbotson, and encompass a wide range of genres.
Ms Atkinson said: “We have got some brilliant books and I think it’s going to be hard for them to decide.”
She said the awards had become a fixture on the school calendar, and new schools were joining each year, keen to use the contest as a way to introduce youngsters to new material and get them enthused about reading.
She said: “Schools are now getting in touch if they haven’t taken part in the past and saying they want to join in.
“Every year, there are lots and lots of books published.
“Kids, especially the very young ones, are very keen on reading the books they have read before, they like their favourites, but having a competition like this introduces all the new authors as well as new stories to the children.”
Taking part for the second year will be Ducklington Primary School.
Year Six teacher Charlie Marshall runs the competition.
She said: “It’s lovely because they get a chance to do something special just for them.
“So many of them are now saying I want to be a writer, I want to write my own book.
“It really does inspire writing as well as reading.”
Children have until April 18 to vote for their favourite book.
The most popular book in each school will go forward as that school’s pick, then the book with the largest number of school votes will win.
All the authors will be invited to a prize-giving ceremony in October at Abingdon School, where pupils will have the chance to come face-to-face with their favourite writers.
BOOK AWARDS SHORTLIST
Butterfly Summer, by Anne-Marie Conway
Hero on a Bicycle, by Shirley Hughes
Mortal Chaos, by Matt Dickinson
The One Dollar Horse, by Lauren St John
Hitler’s Angel, by William Osborne
BZRK, by Michael Grant
Wonder, by RJ Palacio
Four Children and It, by Jacqueline Wilson
The Abominables, by Eva Ibbotson
Little Nellie’s Big Book, by Pippa Goodhart
A Bus Called Heaven, by Bob Graham
The Really, Really, Really Big Dinosaur Book, by Richard Byrne