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South East Schools Themed Book Awards

A record number of pupils attended the celebration evening of the 13th South East Schools Themed Book Award hosted by Kent College, Pembury. 220 pupils were there to find out which titles had won the Teen and Young Adult awards on the theme of ‘Taking a Stand’. 20 local schools participated and pupils read books about characters finding their voice, fighting against injustice and being active in their community. 


To encourage and promote reading in school to young people


Inaugurated in 2006, approximately 20 local schools take part with Librarians organising book groups to read books on a theme. Two shortlists are compiled, one for Teenage readers and one for Young Adults.


The award celebration evening is held at Kent College, Pembury. The school hosts regular meetings of the local school librarians to share resources and plan the celebration evening in the Susannah Wesley Library. The Countess of Wessex Theatre hosts up to 260 young people and their Librarians and refreshments are provided in the Dining room. Two guest authors talk about their books and writing and hold a joint Q & A session. Website


Sita Brahmachari – guest author in 2019 “To meet so many enthusiastic and engaged young readers who have so fully engaged with your story is such a compliment for writers. It was clear that this love of books and creative responses to them, was being planted and sown by wonderful librarians and teachers from all the schools. There was not a spare seat in the large auditorium…  It felt so right that in celebrating books that young people were reading their own creativity was also celebrated. I felt inspired by the whole occasion.”

“Thank you for another wonderful awards evening, it is really encouraging for our students to be involved in something like this”  (Trinity)

“Bennett students really enjoyed the evening and begged to be allowed to come next year. I think that was a winner!”

“We had a lovely time, the students are already discussing next year’s theme. We’re meeting next week to have cake, discuss the evening and collect ideas for our next theme. Thanks to everyone who worked so hard, both authors were great and the students all seemed really engaged.” (Tonbridge Grammar School for Girls)

Pupil Involvement

Pupils suggest themes and books for the shortlists, which are decided by the Librarians. Within each school pupils read the shortlisted books and participate in discussion and fun activities, and then vote for their favourite. Competitions judged at the celebration evening include creative responses, book trailers and fancy dress.


Annual event starting with reading the shortlists from September, and the celebration evening hosted at Kent College, Pembury at the end of March.