Portsmouth’s book-loving pupils attend a massive celebration of reading at the Kings Theater


The winner of the Portsmouth Year 5 Book Award 2022 was announced to a packed house of enthusiastic pupils at the Kings Theater this week. The Mayor, Canon Councilor Dr Hugh Mason and Mayor Miss Marie Costa congratulated Chris Priestley, whose book, Freeze, was voted winner of a shortlist of five books by more than 1,200 fifth graders from twenty-three city ​​schools.

Portsmouth Year 5 Reading Champions, pupils from Ark Ayrton Primary Academy and Portsdown Primary School, were also recognised. Every elementary school nominates a student who is an avid reader and inspires others around them to love books and reading.

Children also had the opportunity to nominate an “Inspirational Adult”, someone in their school who has helped and encouraged students to develop a love of reading. Sam Smith from Portsdown Primary School received the award, which is given in memory of the late Mrs Jean Fray, who was a librarian at Arundel Court Academy.

Portsmouth School Library Service holds an annual Book Prize and Reading Champion competition in three age groups to promote a love of reading: Grade 1 and Grade 8/9 students also vote for a longer novel. This is the second time Chris has won the award, being named the winner in 2018 for his book, Flesh and Blood.

Cllr Suzy Horton, Cabinet Member for Education at Portsmouth City Council, said

“Chris Priestley was the big winner this year from a fantastic shortlist. Portsmouth pupils had to choose their favorite book from four quite different titles, but they were really captivated by this great story. The annual Book Award and Reading Champion competition is a fantastic initiative to promote the love of reading.

Caroline Prince, Counselor Librarian at Portsmouth School Library Service, said of Reading Champions:

“We were delighted that so many students were nominated this year. In the end, we can only award the prize to two winners. We felt they had done a fantastic job of sharing their love of books and reading with other students in their schools.

The School Library Service offers several programs that aim to inspire students to read for pleasure and create opportunities for them to meet published authors and celebrate books.


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