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‘When I See Blue’ by Lily Bailey receives the Warwickshire Secondary Book Award 2024 as voted by local school students

‘When I See Blue’ by Lily Bailey has won the Warwickshire Secondary Book Award 2024 following a vote by Year 7 and 8 students from twenty different secondary schools across the county.

The book shares a touching and honest fictional story about obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and explores the power of friendship as 12-year-old character Ben understands how to live with OCD and find ways to manage his condition.

The annual Warwickshire Secondary Book Award is hosted by Warwickshire Schools Libraries Services (WSLS) with the objective of encouraging more students to enjoy reading for pleasure through school and library settings.  

The award is a spring term initiative delivered in secondary schools between January to March each year, with an exciting reading list chosen by the experienced WSLS team alongside valuable input from several secondary school librarians. The shortlist of books chosen for students to read this year included:

  • Dogs of the Deadlands by Anthony McGowan
  • Steady For This by Nathanael Lessore
  • The Door of No Return by Kwame Alexander
  • The Lighthouse by Alex Bell
  • Tyger by SF Said
  • When I See Blue by Lily Bailey

To participate, year 7 and 8 students were encouraged to read all six books from the shortlist and to vote for their favourite book as the winner, using the criteria that the book must be ‘a page-turner that pupils would highly recommend to others’.

The initiative culminated in an award ceremony at King High School in Warwick on Wednesday 20 March, where students from secondary schools across Warwickshire attended to find out which author was pronounced the winner as voted for by their cohort.

Three of the six authors, Anthony McGowan, Nathanael Lessore, SF Said, were able to attend the event, providing inspiration and engaging conversations about the shortlisted books as well as discussing what it’s like to be in the publishing industry.

The event also featured an appearance by Warwickshire’s Young Poet Laureate 2023/24, May Vaughan, a student at Stratford Girls Grammar School. May performed a selection of her own poems with the message that we are all good at something and to follow your passions and interests.

Cllr Yousef Dahmash, Portfolio Holder for Customer and Transformation, said:

“The Warwickshire Secondary Book Award is a fantastic initiative that encourages our secondary school students to discover the many benefits of reading. Local schools enjoy taking part as it greatly helps with the personal development of students, improving their communications skills, confidence, and encouraging an increased interest in the written word.


“I would like to thank the authors for their participation in this initiative, as well as our Schools Library Service. They are always on hand with professional advice and guidance to help any schools that would like to use literature to enhance the education of their students.”

Warwickshire Schools Library Service organised and hosted the award and are grateful to receive support from Warwickshire Libraries Reading and Learning team, the shortlisted authors and publishers, and Warwick Books. The shortlisted books are all available to borrow from Warwickshire Libraries.

WSLS services are available to support schools and education settings through a wide range of reading and curriculum resources, awards, initiatives, training and more that will engage children and young people and help foster a love or reading. To find out more about the WSLS, visit  

If your school would like to take part in the Secondary Book Award next year, please email WSLS at or phone 01926 413461. 

Published: 21st March 2024