Indian-origin owner’s children’s bookshop wins top prizes at British Book Awards

LONDON, May 14 : A quaint and popular children’s bookshop run by a British Indian book lover in a leafy north London suburb has beaten tough competition to bag two top prizes at the annual British Book Awards.

The Children’s Bookshop, owned and operated by Sanchita Basu De Sarkar in Muswell Hill, was named the Children’s Bookseller of the Year, with the owner also walking away with the prestigious Best Book Retailer of the Year at a glittering ceremony in London on Monday evening.

Dressed in an elegant saree, Sanchita’s double wins mark a very special way for the well-loved independent bookshop to celebrate its 50th birthday this year.

“Children’s books can be a refuge in this world. It is a joy and a privilege knowing our bookshop can be a safe haven for children and their adults,” said Sanchita, daughter of London-based author Shrabani Basu.

Her shop was recognised as one “that never seems to age with a youthful energy for reading” and for supporting numerous charities and community projects, besides generating a 35 per cent increase in sales last year.

Other bookshops on the Children’s Bookshop of the Year shortlist were Books2door, Halfway Up The Stairs, Imagine Me Stories, Next Page Books, Waterstones, Sevenoaks Bookshop and Wonderland Bookshop.

The Children’s Bookshop became only the second independent bookshop to win the category in the past 11 years.

“It’s everything a children’s bookshop should be,” declared the judges, highlighting the shop’s plethora of outreach work.

“Owner Sanchita Basu De Sarkar and the indefatigable team of five do far more than run the tills. There was great schools’ outreach work and some joyful World Book Day activity, while new for 2023 were two additions to the range of book clubs – which have years-long waiting lists to join – and a creative writing course,” they noted.

The shop, nestling in the very heart of the community, also regularly organises signings with A-list children’s authors like Julia Donaldson, David Walliams and Michael Rosen, often creating queues around the block.

“The Children’s Bookshop has always supported new as well as big names, and it’s put diversity and inclusion at the core of its offering in recent years… they are so much more than a bookseller,” noted the judges.

The British Book Awards, also known as the “Nibbies” after the trophies handed out to the winners, are a celebration of books and all who make them.

Considered the Oscars of the book world, the awards picked by a panel of eminent judges are handed out across various categories to writers, agents, publishers and bookshops.

It was a year for children’s books to grab the limelight as English author and academic Katherine Rundell was named Author of the Year – the first time in six years that a children’s writer has won the category.

Rundell’s fantasy adventure ‘Impossible Creatures’ also won the prize for Children’s Fiction Book of the Year. (PTI )