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Royal Society Young People's Book Prize coming to Life

The Royal Society’s annual Young People’s Book Prize winner will this year be announced during a ceremony at the Centre for Life, Newcastle – the first time the event has been held outside London.

Established 354 years ago, the Royal Society is a fellowship of many of the world’s most distinguished scientists drawn from all areas of science, engineering, and medicine.

Each year the Society awards a prize to the best book that communicates science to young people. The prize aims to inspire young people to read about science and promotes the best science writing for the under-14s.

Publishers across the UK submitted their best recent books that communicate science to young people. An adult shortlisting panel narrowed down the choice to a shortlist of six books.

The winning book, which has been selected entirely by groups of young people from schools and youth groups around the UK, will be announced in a ceremony at Life on 17 November.

Children from Life’s monthly Science Club formed one of the judging groups. The group discussed each of the books before deciding on their favourite. Claudia Simmons, age 13, was part of the group. She said: “I loved being part of the judging panel. All of the books were great – I did have a favourite which I hope is the overall winner! Writing science books for children takes a lot of skill but I think having great illustrations and a bit of humour always helps.”

Once they have picked their winning book, each group submits their result to the Royal Society and the book with the highest number of winning votes is declared the winner.

Noel Jackson, Head of Education at Life, said: “Science books are important for young people as they are a great way of showing how exciting the subject can be - whether that’s through exciting and engaging illustrations or well-written content that offers relevant and real experiments to try at home. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with some of our science club members to review the shortlisted books and are thrilled to be hosting the award ceremony.”

Several of the judging groups have been invited to attend the award ceremony and will take part in workshops with the authors before the winning book is announced.

The shortlisted books in the Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize are:
  • What makes you YOU? By Gill Arbuthnott (A&C Black – an imprint of Bloomsbury). The judges said: “This book takes a contemporary look at genetics, telling the story behind some of the key discoveries and scientists in the field. It has great narrative, and discusses some of the topical issues of today.”
  • How animals live by Christiane Dorion (Templar Publishing). 
  • The judges said: “We love this pop-up book showing a range of different habitats and the animals that live in them. Beautifully presented, this is a lovely introduction to ecosystems around the planet.”
  • Eye Benders: the science of seeing and believing by Clive Gifford with consultant Anil Seth (Ivy Kids) 
  • The judges said: “Warning: this book will try to trick you! It is full of optical illusions you can try for yourself, and we love how interactive this is. What this book does really well is explain each trick of the eye through the science behind it. Both fascinating and fun.”
  • We’ve got your number by Mukul Patel (Kingfisher) 
  • The judges said: “Maths is all around us, and this book is a great way of presenting this. Mathematical concepts are explained through their application, and the authors’ passion for the subject really shines through.”
  • The Usborne Big Book of Stars and Planets by Emily Bone (Usborne) 
  • The judges said: “This book is jam-packed full of information about the Universe, from the Solar System to distant galaxies. The eye-catching illustrations are beautifully done, and are based on real astronomical images. This book really conveys the wonders of our Universe.”
  • Lift-the-Flap Questions and Answers about Your Body by Katie Daynes (Usborne) 
  • The judges said: “This bite-sized Q&A book with informative illustrations is sure to satisfy inquisitive minds, answering the kinds of questions young children have about their bodies in a fun, lift-the-flap style.”


Further information:

The adult shortlisting panel were:

Professor James Hough FRS (chair) – Associate Director of the Institute for Gravitational Research, Glasgow University

Dr Rhaana Starling – Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellow at the Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Leicester, studying black holes and Gamma-Ray bursts

Mr Michael Heyes – Science and Maths Specialism Coordinator, Winston Churchill Fellow, the Ellen Wilkinson School for Girls

Professor Iain Stewart – Professor of Geoscience Communication, University of Plymouth and presenter of BBC science programmes

Dr Anjana Ahuja – Freelance science journalist, writing for the Daily Telegraph, Prospect and the Financial Times

On the selection of the shortlist Professor James Hough FRS, Chair of the judging panel said: “Chairing the shortlisting committee for the Young Peoples Book Prize was a real educational adventure, making me wish I was young again! There was a remarkable range of really attractive books covering the majority of the sciences, medicine and mathematics suitable for children over a wide age range, and deciding between them was quite a challenge.

“We had an excellent committee, a number of whom had children of their own and so we had very high quality experimental input to help us choose our top six. Now we pass on the shortlisted books to our young judges and wait with excitement to see which comes out on top.”

The Royal Society is a self-governing Fellowship of many of the world’s most distinguished scientists drawn from all areas of science, engineering, and medicine. The Society’s fundamental purpose, as it has been since its foundation in 1660, is to recognise, promote, and support excellence in science and to encourage the development and use of science for the benefit of humanity.

The Society’s strategic priorities emphasise its commitment to the highest quality science, to curiosity-driven research, and to the development and use of science for the benefit of society. These priorities are:

1. Promoting science and its benefits

2. Recognising excellence in science

3. Supporting outstanding science

4. Providing scientific advice for policy

5. Fostering international and global cooperation

6. Education and public engagement

For further information please visit Follow the Royal Society on Twitter at or on Facebook at

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