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The winner of the Portsmouth Year 5 Book Award 2022 was announced in front of a full house of excited pupils at the Kings Theatre this week. The Lord Mayor, Councillor Canon Dr Hugh Mason and Lady Mayoress Miss Marie Costa congratulated Chris Priestley, whose book, Freeze was voted the winner from a shortlist of five books by over 1200 year five pupils from twenty-three schools in the city.

Portsmouth’s Year 5 Reading Champions, pupils from Ark Ayrton Primary Academy and Portsdown Primary School, were also recognised. All the primary schools make a nomination for a pupil who is an avid reader and enthuses others around them to love books and reading as well.

Children were also given the chance to nominate an ‘Inspiring Adult’, someone in their school who has helped and encouraged pupils to develop a love of reading. Sam Smith from Portsdown Primary School received the prize, which is given in memory of the late Mrs Jean Fray, who was Librarian at Arundel Court Academy.

Portsmouth School Library Service runs an annual Book Award and Reading Champion competition across three age groups to promote a love of reading: Year 1s and Year 8/9s also vote for a longer novel. This is the second time Chris has won the award, being named as 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 runaway winner this year from a fantastic shortlist. Portsmouth pupils had to choose their favourite book from four quite different titles, but they were really gripped by this great story. The annual Book Award and Reading Champion competition is a fantastic initiative to promote the love of reading”

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

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

The School Library Service has several programmes which aim to get pupils reading for pleasure and create opportunities for them to meet published authors and celebrate books.