Meet the Judges

As always, this year’s panel includes children’s authors, literacy experts and champions of reading for pleasure, to ensure that every title is assessed for its potential in the classroom as well as for reading at home – and they can’t wait to start reading!

Ben Garrod


Non-fiction judge Ben is Professor of Evolutionary Biology and Science Engagement at the University of East Anglia, as well as an author, award-winning BBC broadcaster and conservation ambassador. Extinct: The Story of Life on Earth (Zephyr) is his eight-book series for young readers.

Joan Haig


Joan grew up in Zambia – and lived in Vanuatu, India and Nigeria before settling in Scotland. For many years she worked as an academic, teaching African history and collecting stories of minority belonging and identity. Her debut novel, Tiger Skin Rug, was nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Medal.

David Solomons


David is a screenwriter. His first feature film was an adaptation of ‘Five Children and It’. A Beginner’s Guide to Ruling the Galaxy is his sixth novel for children. His first, My Brother is a Superhero!, won a British Book Award and the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize in 2016.

Steph Elliott


Steph is a Year 6 class teacher in a one-form entry school in Newcastle, and a book blogger. She has a passion for reading and believes every child is a reader - they just need the right book to ignite their passion.

Lucy Starbuck Braidley


Lucy is senior programme manager for Reading for Enjoyment at The National Literacy Trust. This year she's working with over 300 schools to promote a whole-school reading culture through transforming primary school libraries. Lucy is a former primary school teacher, English subject lead and moderator.

Brough Girling


Brough is co-founder of the Readathon charity. A qualified teacher, he has written over 30 children’s books, broadcast widely and lectured in children’s reading from Canada to Cairo. He was head of the Children’s Book Foundation in London and founding editor of the Young Telegraph.