Mar 8, 2012

Trends in Children's Literature

You've probably heard...we love kid's books. Which is why we created Scarletta Junior Readers and Scarletta Kids, so we can spend a lot more time with children's literature! Because this is still a new adventure for us, we decided to do some basic digging in children's lit trends.
First, how much are kids reading? Turns out they're reading less than ever. The reasons? Homework and standardized testing are taking up a lot of their free time. And this has some seriously negative effects. Studies have shown that:

  • Kids who are readers do better at school and in life
  • Children and teens who read for pleasure on a daily or weekly basis score better on reading tests than infrequent readers
  • Frequent readers also score better on writing tests
  • Advanced readers accrue personal, professional, and social advantages
  • Literary readers are more likely than non-readers to engage in positive civic activities, such as volunteering
Ok, well if kids are reading less, we have to pique their interest. That lead us to our next question, what genres are kids interested in? Turns out, they like:
  • Mythology based fantasy
  • Interactivity
  • Rise of the diary and journal format (Wimpy Kid)
  • Urban fiction – street lit
Well this information is perfect, because one of our upcoming books, The Mighty Quinn, is written from a journal-type viewpoint. It's also a book that we think (and hope!) kids will be able to relate to: In the chaos of fifth grade – recess, bullies, little sisters, and new kids – young Quinn must learn to be mighty and stand up for what’s right.
Another interesting discovery was that there are fewer picture books available because most publishers are focusing on young adult novels. This information bummed us out, because who doesn't love a good picture book? But we hope to help rectify the situation by publishing some new picture books. Nalah and the Pink Tiger was written by Anne Sawyer-Aitch, and she also turned the story into a puppet show (interactivity, anyone?). We loved the bold colors and unique look to the illustrations, and the puppets were just icing on the cake for us! We also have a number of other pictures books in the final stages of acquisition.
Now that we know what kids like to read, the question becomes: Who is purchasing these books? The answer shouldn't surprise you, it's parents. Mostly moms. But there were some numbers that did surprise us. Did you know that 32% of books purchased in 2009 were from households earning less than $32,000 annually? And 1/5 of those sales were children’s books.
Additionally, 82% of parents wish their kids read more often. What kinds of books do they wish their kids would read more of? More challenging books for younger ages. They have increased expectations for children’s reading capabilities at younger ages.

This is one of the reasons we're so proud of our Lexicon Adventure Series by Pendred Noyce. The first book, Lost in Lexicon, is a story that children loved. They related to the characters, and were lured into thinking about slope, metaphor, and many other cool concepts, all in the midst of treasure hunts and adventure. We're hoping for a similar success with The Ice Castle, which teaches children the math behind music.The final thing we wanted to know was, are parents buying these books in print or as ebooks? And it turns out that even though ebooks are a really big deal, traditional printed books are still selling in the children’s market because younger readers like to trade/share books. Young readers also like to go to the midnight releases to get hardcover books of their favorite authors. Kids like having bookshelves – collections, showing off what they read.

All this isn't to say that kid's ebooks aren't doing well. Currently print and digital kid's books complement each other versus beating each other out. With that information, we've decided to offer almost all of our books in both forms. That way there's something for everyone. Something for those more tech saavy, and something for the kids more like us...who dream to one day have a room that looks like this:

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