Each year we send 6 outstanding science books to groups of young people across the UK. Since April 2014 over 1500 children have been reading, scrutinising and debating these books in an effort to pick their favourite.

These Judging Panels have an important job, as the book with the most votes will receive the honour of the Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize 2014, as well as £10,000.

We hear from Dr Pari Collis, the leader of the Judging Panel at La Sainte Union Catholic School in Camden, who tells us how they set about this important responsibility.

La Sainte Union Catholic School, as a Royal Society Associate School, was invited to provide one of the judging panels. In October a group of girls from years 7, 8 and 9 met to review the Royal Society’s shortlisted science books. However, instead of just diving straight into the books, we thought about and discussed what was involved in writing and publishing such a book:

  •  How long it may have taken the author to write the book?
  •  Were there other people involved, such as illustrators, researchers or publishers?
  • What were the consequences of winning to the author?
  • What effect would winning the Prize have on the book?

We really loved that we had the responsibility of contributing towards the choice of the winning book.  The girls were genuinely surprised and very pleased that this was actually real and that their opinion would count!

So we all knew that we owed it to the authors to take the task of judging seriously. We divided into six groups and started looking at a book per group, and loved the feel of brand new books. We often found ourselves turning the pages and just reading and enjoying the books. Many of the books were really interactive and it was easy to dip in and tempting to try out the activities. Sometimes over the course of the afternoon we forgot that we were meant to be judging the books rather than just enjoying them.Book judging 14

To finally decide on the best book, we thought it best to split into small groups, discuss them and then decided on the winner, rather than each person having a vote. One of hardest thing was to bear in mind what age group the book was meant for and not to choose the book we liked for ourselves. In the end, after much animated discussion, our favourite emerged and we knew it was a fair decision. We’re looking forward to seeing if other groups agreed!

Sorcha and Jessica said: “We like Science books because they are informative and if you think about it, everyday life is made up of science.  We really enjoyed judging the books because it gave us responsibility for choosing the winner.” Angel added “It was good to work in group because you could discuss your ideas and come to a decision about the winner”.

Being part of the Judging Panel is great fun for the students and it’s an ideal way to get them engaging with books.

The winner of the Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize 2014 will be announced at a ceremony at the International Centre for Life in Newcastle upon Tyne on Monday 17 November 2014.