Local school children have chosen The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins as their top book from among the winners of the Hampshire Book Awards from the last 21 years. To celebrate two decades since the Awards were launched, to recognise the very best in contemporary children’s fiction each year, the County Council’s School Library Service asked children aged 11 to 16 years from schools across the county to pick the book they considered their ‘Champion of Champions’.

Hampshire County Council’s Executive Member for Education, Councillor Steve Forster, said: “I am delighted that thousands of young people voted for their favourite book as part of this year’s Hampshire Book Awards ‘Champion of Champions’. These awards are a fantastic way to encourage a love of reading that can last a lifetime.

“It is great to see such a variety of books in the final stages of the competition and how some of them delve into important moments in history. I am particularly impressed by the reading stamina of the students involved, knowing how the winning book and several other titles in the competition have over 400 pages. It is a great achievement to have read these titles and I want to congratulate every young person that took part.”

The Hampshire Book Awards are held in June each year with voting taking place among Year 8 pupils from schools who subscribe to the School Library Service. The ‘Champion of Champions’ vote, which took place this autumn, was open to all secondary year groups to give even more children the chance to choose their favourite novel.

As well as encouraging children to read all the books on the list, the School Library Service provides reading guides with hints and tips for classroom discussions. These debates help pupils gain confidence by enabling them to express their views, listen and respect the views of others.

Councillor Forster added: “Our school library staff work tirelessly each year to organise the awards and deserve much credit for their success over the past twenty-one years. Their dedication to championing literacy and nurturing young minds will undoubtedly enrich these children’s lives for years to come.”

For the list of all the titles in the Hampshire Book Awards ‘Champion of Champions’ and the knockout stages, visit the School Library Service website