In a world with over eight billion people, how different can we really be? Find out by reading the winner of the Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize 2022

07 March 2023

The winner of the Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize 2022, which was announced at an online award ceremony today, is ‘If the world were 100 people’, by Jackie McCann and Aaron Cushley.

Young judges from 500 UK schools, science clubs and groups declared their winner from a shortlist of six, which was decided by a panel of adult judges, including Benidorm star and author Nathan Bryon and big cat researcher Professor Alan Wilson.

Have you ever wondered how many people have red hair, a safe place to call home, or speak the same language as you? ‘If the world were 100 people’, explores the differences, similarities, challenges and privileges experienced by people across the world. 

For budding scientists, sociologists and even economists, this book is a thought-provoking read, and gives insight into the people we share our planet with. On each page, the Earth’s population is distilled into a village of 100 people, and every person represents 80 million people in the real world. This offers a unique way to understand complex topics from genetics to medicine and technology.

The winning book received a £10,000 prize and was announced at an online award ceremony hosted by BAFTA-winning TV presenter Lindsey Russell, and streamed live on the Royal Society’s YouTube channel.

Here’s what some of the young judges and 2022 adult judging panel had to say about the winning book:

“It shows you the world isn’t like ‘Wonderland’. Not everyone is safe, and not everyone has food to eat.” – Latymer Upper School, London

“This book enlightened me about what is going on in the world today.” – Perth Academy, Scotland

“This book highlights issues many people have on the planet and reveals what we have in common.” – Tynecastle High School, Scotland

Chair of the judging panel, Fellow of the Royal Society and big cat scientist, Professor Alan Wilson said: “The power of this book lies in its simple yet relatable numbers and powerful imagery, which conveys how much we all have in common but also how many people still do not have things many of us may take for granted, from clean water to the internet. I hope the data and ideas in this book will help the younger generation think about how we can work together to tackle these issues, and what the world’s ‘global village’ may look like in the future.”

Actor and award-winning author Nathan Bryon said: “I was blown away by this book - the illustrations are so diverse, and you can really get a glimpse into everyone on our planet. This book is a brilliant way to understand the complexities of the world.” 

Here’s what the young judges had to say about the rest of the shortlist: 

Beetles For Breakfast...and Other Weird and Wonderful Ways to Save The Planet by Madeleine Finlay, illustrated by Jisu Choi

“This book was very funny, given that scientists can be seen as very serious people.” – Tadcaster Grammar School, North Yorkshire

Fantastically Great Women Scientists and Their Stories by Kate Pankhurst

“This book is easy to read and confirmed what we already believe - you can be anything if you work hard enough and persevere.” – Austhorpe Primary School, Leeds

Fourteen Wolves by Catherine Barr, illustrated by Jenni Desmond 

“We learnt about keystone species and how important they are. We need to protect wolves, as without them many other species would be in danger.” – Salusbury Primary School, London

How Was That Built? by Roma Agrawal, illustrated by Katie Hickey

“This book teaches you about how things are built, and what we can add to make it better. I learnt about buildings from different countries, eras and continents.” – Perth Academy, Scotland

Microbe Wars by Gill Arbuthnott, illustrated by Marianna Madriz

“It was cool to show the good and bad bacteria as superheroes and villains. This book explained how people made vaccines in the past, which can help us in the future.” – Latymer Upper School, London