ALCS Educational Writers’ Award

For an outstanding example of traditionally published non-fiction that stimulates and enhances learning

The Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society Award for Educational Writers is awarded to an outstanding example of traditionally published non-fiction that stimulates and enhances learning. The total prize money is £2,000, shared between author and illustrator. The ALCS Educational Writers’ Award was established in 2008 by ALCS and the Society of Authors, “to celebrate educational writing that inspires creativity, encourages students to read widely and builds up their understanding of a subject beyond the requirements of exam specifications.”

The 2023 ALCS Educational Writer’s Award is now open for submissions

The 2022 ALCS Educational Writer’s Award Winner

What’s The T? written by Juno Dawson and illustrated by Soofiya (Wren & Rook).
Created for young people aged 14+, WHAT’S THE T? is a no-nonsense guide to all things trans and/or non-binary written by award-winning YA author and former PSHE teacher, Juno Dawson, with drawings by gender non-conforming illustrator, Soofiya. From identity and expression to coming out and dating, it aims to guide young people (and their parents and carers) through the modern transgender experience, and help them live their best lives, true to who they are.

“Juno Dawson and Soofiya have produced something incredibly special with this book. It is a fantastic guide, not just for young people who may be exploring their own identity and sexuality, but for anyone seeking to understand transgender and non-binary issues. With a powerful charge of optimism and lived experience, it is witty and funny without being flippant, and practical without being dull. We can see it becoming an influential book indeed, with the power to open minds and hearts.” — The judges

If you are interested in any of the books shortlisted for the 2022 ALCS Educational Writers Award, please visit
A percentage of each sale purchased through this link will be donated to the SoA Contingency Fund, which provides small grants to writers in immediate financial need.


The 2022 ALCS Educational Writer’s Award focused on books for 11-18 year olds published in 2020 and 2021. This year’s judges were children’s author Sita Brahmachari, secondary school teacher Sean Chuhan, and school librarian, Melissa Craig.

The winner of the 2022 ALCS Educational Writer’s Award was What’s the T written by Juno Dawson and illustrated by Soofiya.

The two runners-up for the 2022 award were:

  • Musical Truth: A Musical Journey Through Modern Black Britain written by Jeffrey Boakye and illustrated by Ngadi Smart (Faber).
  • The Place for Me: Stories About the Windrush Generation written by KN Chimbiri, Kevin George, Salena Godden, Judy Hepburn, Ashley Hickson-Lovence, Jermain Jackman, Kirsty Latoya, Katy Massey, EL Norry, and Quincy the Comedian, with a foreword by Baroness Floella Benjamin, illustrated by Joelle Avellino and designed by Richard Smith (Scholastic).

The three other shortlisted titles were:

  • A Rebel in Auschwitz: The True Story of the Resistance Hero who Fought the Nazis from Inside the Camp written by Jack Fairweather (Scholastic).
  • The Art of Drag written by Jake Hall and illustrated by Sofie Birkin, Helen Li, and Jasyot Singh Hans (Nobrow).
  • Silence is Not an Option: You can Impact the World for Change written by Stuart Lawrence and designed by Richard Smith (Scholastic).


The winner of the 2021 ALCS Educational Writers’ Award was Sarah Maycock for Sometimes I feel.

The 2021 Award focused on books for 5-11 year olds, published in 2019 and 2020. This years judges were Trish Cooke, Katie Purdy and Hazel Forbes.

The other four shortlisted titles were:

  • I Am Not A Label written by Cerrie Burnell and illustrated by Lauren “Emel” Bado
  • Be Amazing written by Chris Hoy and illustrated by Miguel Bustos
  • A Climate in Chaos written and illustrated by Neil Layton
  • I Am A Book, I Am A Portal to the Universe written and illustrated by Stefanie Posavec and Miriam Quick


The winner of the 2020 ALCS Educational Writers’ Award was Robin Walker for Black History Matters: The Story of Black History, From African Kingdoms to Black Lives Matter.
The 2020 Award focused on books for 11-18 year olds, published in 2018 and 2019. This years judges were children’s author, Bali Rai; school librarian, Liz Annetts; and secondary school teacher, Charlotte Baggley.
Of the winner, our judges said: “This accessible, comprehensive and inspiring book provides a balanced and timely introduction, both to Black history and to the BLM (Black Lives Matter) movement. It’s an excellent classroom resource that will be used time and time again by teachers.”

The other four shortlisted titles were:

  • Africa, Amazing Africa: Country by Country, written by Atinuke and illustrated by Mouni Feddag (Walker Books)
  • Earth Heroes: 20 Inspiring Stories of People Saving Our World, written by Lily Dyu and illustrated by Jackie Lay (Nosy Crow)
  • Herstory: 50 Women and Girls who Shook the World, written by Katherine Halligan and illustrated by Sarah Walsh (Nosy Crow)
  • How to be Autistic, written and illustrated by Charlotte Amelia Poe (Myriad Editions)


The winners of the 2019 Educational Writers’ Award were Alastair Humpreys and illustrator Kevin Ward for Alastair Humphreys’ Great Adventurers: The Incredible Expeditions of 20 Explorers (Big Picture Press).

The 2019 Award focuses on books for 5-11 year olds, published in 2017 and 2018. This years judges were: Hollie Davis, a primary school teacher; Michaela Morgan, an author of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry for children; and Fiona Shufflebotham, a junior school librarian.

Our judges said: “From the careful selection of adventurers from all backgrounds to the engaging and inventive presentation of their stories through comics, diary entries, maps and more, this book is an inspiration for children. We loved the way the explorers’ amazing stories are intertwined with tales of Humphreys’ own adventures too.”

The 2019 shortlistees were:

  • David Hockney, Martin Gayford, and illustrator Rose Blake for A History of Pictures for Children (Thames & Hudson)
  • Kathy Hoopman and designer Adam Peacock for All Birds Have Anxiety (Jessica Kingsley Publishers)
  • Sarah Ridley and designer and illustrator Jeni Child for Suffragettes and the Fight for the Vote (Franklin Watts)
  • Alom Shaha and illustrator Emily Robertson for Mr Shaha’s Recipes for Wonder: Adventures in Science Round the Kitchen Table
  • Anna Wilson and illustrator Elly Jahnz for 2019 Nature Month-by-Month: A Children’s Almanac (Nosy Crow)


The winner of the 2018 Educational Writers’ Award was Cath Senker for her book Far From Home (Franklin Watts).

The 2018 Award focused on books for 11-18 year olds, published in 2016 and 2017. This years judges were 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 judges were full of praise for the winning title, saying:

This heart-breaking, powerful and very special book takes a thoughtful and relevant look at a subject we all need to understand and care about. It fully utilises every page, from the maps on the inside covers to the timeline, glossary and further reading section and is extremely readable and accessible for its secondary school audience. Never giving in to media stereotypes, it also provides a clear and compassionate catalyst for discussions about the plight of refugees, highlighting individual experiences and presenting different viewpoints in an impeccably non-judgmental way.

The 2018 shortlistees were:

  • Loos Save Lives by Seren Boyd (Wayland)
  • How to Think Like a Coder by Jim Christian and illustrated by Paul Boston (Batsford)
  • From Prejudice to Pride by Amy Lamé (Wayland)
  • The Story of Painting written and illustrated by Mick Manning and Brita Granström (Franklin Watts)


The winners of the 2017 Educational Writers’ Award were Wojciech Grajkowski, illustrator Piotr Socha, and translator Agnes Monod-Gayraud for their bookThe Book of Bees (Thames & Hudson).

The 2017 Award focused on books for 5-11 year olds, published in 2015 and 2016. This year’s judges were school librarian Marion Le Lannou; headteacher Mike Reeves; and writer, editor, and publisher Annemarie Young. 

The judges were full of praise for the book, saying:

A wonderfully imagined and wittily illustrated compendium of information all about bees their central role in our world, which pitches contrasting elements together in just the way that children love. Full of humour, it takes in the ancient Greeks and Egyptians, entomology, botany, the Bible, design, technology and more, breaking the subject of bees out of its traditional confines. Everything is beautifully explained in detail on a double-page spread for a deeper understanding. Quite magnificent.

The 2017 shortlistees were:

  • Secrets of the Sea (Big Picture Press/Templar) by Kate Baker and illustrated by Eleanor Taylor 
  • Fluttering Minibeast Adventures (Red Shed/Egmont) by Jess French and illustrated by Jonathan Woodward, with paper engineering by Keith Finch
  • Genius! The Most Astonishing Adventures of All Time (Thames & Hudson) by Deborah Kespert and designed by Karen Wilks
  • How to Code in 10 Easy Lessons (QED Publishing/Quarto) by Sean McManus and illustrated by Venitia Dean
  • Tree of Wonder: The Many Marvelous Lives of a Rainforest Tree (Chronicle Books) by Kate Messner and illustrated by Simona Mulazzani


The winners of the 2016 ALCS Award were Anna Weltman and illustrators Edward Cheverton and Ivan Hissey for their book This is Not a Maths Book (Ivy Press).

The 2016 Award focused on books for 11-18 year olds, published in 2014 and 2015. This year’s judges were author Nicola Morgan; teacher Jonathan Lomas; and librarian Nicky Ransley.

Weltman, Cheverton and Hissey beat an outstanding shortlist of non-fiction titles. Nicola Morgan praised the book, saying:

I particularly loved that this book would be likely to engage people of any level of mathematical aptitude or reluctance and yet it did so without jumping up and down and shoving a ‘maths is fun’ message at us. It was genuinely pleasurable and mind-opening and you can’t ask more of a book!

The 2016 shortlist were:

  • The Oxford Shakespeare Dictionary (Oxford University Press) by David and Ben Crystal and illustrated by Kate Bellamy
  • The School of Art (Wide Eyed Editions) by Teal Triggs illustrated by Daniel Frost


The winners of the 2015 ALCS Award were Rachel Williams and illustrator Lucy Letherland for their book Atlas of Adventures (Wide Eyed Editions, Aurum Press). 

The 2015 Award focused on books for 5-11 year olds, published in 2013 and 2014. This year’s judges were school librarian Caroline Gosden; headteacher Michael Schumm; and author Cath Senker.

Williams and Letherland beat an outstanding shortlist of non-fiction titles exploring subjects ranging from animal food chains and space to the First World War and maths. Atlas of Adventures (Wide Eyed Editions) follows a boy and girl as they visit over 30 destinations across seven continents. The judges praised the book, saying:

This is a beautifully designed, durable and hugely informative book, packed full of vibrant colour, and fascinating information and activities from countries around the world. Offering an experience not found on the internet, its roller coaster ride of a journey will encourage children across the primary school age groups to find out more about the world we live in.

The 2015 shortlist were:

  • Who Eats Who (Oxford University Press) by Teresa Heapy illustrated by Rebecca Elliot 
  • Marvellous Maths (Templar) by Jonathan Litton illustrated by Thomas Flintham 
  • Dear Jelly: Family Letters From the First World War (Frankling Watts) by Sarah Ridley
  • Space Record Breakers (Carlton Kids) by Anne Rooney


The winners of the 2014 ALCS Award were John Richards and Ed Simkins for the world in infographics: ANIMAL KINGDOM (Wayland). Described as ‘an outstanding book to engage any reader in this Information Age. More information is packed into its vivid, colourful pages than looks possible, all presented through brilliant, easy-to-read infographics. The whole book jumps out at you and id thoroughly engaging and informative.’

The 2014 Award focused on books published during 2012 and 2013 for the 11-18 age group, and the shortlist for this year’s Award was comprised of three strong titles. They were: 

  • Keep Your Cool: How to deal with Life’s Worries and Stresses Dr. Aaron Balick and illustrator Clotilde Syzmanski (Franklin Watts)
  • The Danger Zone: Avoid Being Sir Isaac Newton! Ian Graham and illustrator David Antram (Book House)
  • Mission: Explore FOOD Daniel Raven-EllisonHelen Steer and Tom Morgan-Jones (Can of Worms)


Writer Tom Adams and illustrator Thomas Flintham were announced as the winners of the 2013 ALCS Educational Writers’ Award, for Molecule Mayhem! Pop-Up Chemistry Chaos. Described as a “fun and engaging book…a worthy winner” by the prize judges, Molecule Mayhem!  investigates such chemical conundrums as where petrol comes from; why onions make us cry; how fireworks work and what on earth a nanotube is.

The 2013 Award focused on books published during 2011 and 2012 for the 5-11 age group, and the shortlist for this year’s Award was comprised of three strong titles. They were: 

  • World Atlas Nick Crane and David Dean (Barefoot Books)
  • How The Weather Works: A Hands-On Guide To Our Changing Skies and Climate Christine Dorian and Beverley Young (Templar)
  • The Danger Zone: Avoid Working on a Medieval Cathedral! Fiona Macdonald and David Antram (Book House)


Described as “unforgettable”, Ruth Thomson was announced as the winner of the 2012 ALCS Educational Writers’ Award for Terezín: A Story of the Holocaust. The judges described the winner as: “One of the finest children’s non-fiction books for many years”.

The 2012 Award focused on books for 12-18 year olds, published in 2010 and 2011. Terezín beat off strong competition from the other three titles shortlisted for this year’s Award. They were:

  • Really Really Big Questions about Faith Dr Julian Baggini (Kingfisher)
  • The Story of Britain Patrick Dillon (Walker Books)
  • Into the Unknown: how great explorers found their way by land sea and air Stewart Ross(Walker Books)

Download the press release


The winner of the 2011 Award for the 5-11 age group, was Stewart Ross for Moon: Apollo 11 and Beyond…The Ultimate Guide to Our Nearest Neighbour (OUP).

The shortlist also comprised:

  • Nick Baker’s Bug Zoo by Nick Baker (Dorling Kindersley)
  • Gorilla Journal by Carolyn Franklin (Salariya Book Company)
  • Mission Explore by The Geography Collective (Can of Worms Press)

The 2011 judging panel comprised: children’s writer Nicola Davies, teacher Chris Freudenberg and librarian Fiona Kirk.


The winner of the 2010 Award, for the 12-18 age group, was Bill Bryson for A Really Short History of Nearly Everything (Doubleday), which was abridged and edited by Felicia Law (Diverta Ltd.) with whom he shared the Award.

The 2010 shortlist also comprised:

  • Shakespeare on Toast by Ben Crystal (Icon Books)
  • Do You Think You’re Clever? by John Farndon (Icon Books)
  • A Slice of Pi by Liz Strachan, illustrated by Steven Appleby (Constable)

The 2010 judging panel included three educational experts: school librarian Maggie Campbell, teacher Louise Gerrard and writer Stewart Ross.


  • The 2009 Award – for the 5-11 age group – was won by the ‘disgustingly good’ Gooey, Chewy, Rumble, Plop Book by Steve Alton, Nick Sharratt and Sally Symes (Bodley Head), seeing off strong competition.

The four other shortlisted titles were:

  • How to Make Manga Characters by Katy Coope (Collins Big Cat)
  • Chocolate – The Bean that Conquered the World by Vivian French, ill. Paul Howard (Walker)
  • Tail-End Charlie by Mick Manning & Brita Granström (Frances Lincoln)
  • Archie’s War – My Scrapbook of the First World War by Marcia Williams (Walker)


  • The winner of the inaugural Educational Writers’ Award was Ian Gilbert for The Little Book of Thunks: 260 Questions to Make your Brain Go Ouch! (Crown House Publishing).

The three other shortlisted titles were:

  • Simon Basher & Adrian Dingle for The Periodic Table – Elements with Style! (Kingfisher)
  • Tish Farrell for Write Your Own Adventure Stories (Ticktock Media)
  • Glenn Murphy for Why Is Snot Green? (Macmillan)

The judges also commended Meg Harper’s Wha’ever published by The Spinal Injuries Association.

The work to be a single-volume, non-fiction (with or without illustrations), of genuine merit, for the 5-11 age group.

The work to have been first published in the UK, in the English language.

The work to have been published within the previous two calendar years, i.e. 2021 and 2022