Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Children's Books are Growing Fast Across the Genres

Have  a look at the children's section in the book store lately or see what's forthcoming this season, from picture books through titles for teens.

'Trylle Trilogy,' 'The False Prince,' more optioned for filmsThis fall's offerings span a wide variety of topics and suggest why children's books have turned into the fastest-growing segment of the publishing industry. And, interestingly, adults are crossing over to read their kids' books!

The magical spell J.K. Rowling cast over kid lit with "Harry Potter" found new blood with Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight" saga and most recently, Suzanne Collins' fight-to-the-death "The Hunger Games," creating a halo effect for the entire genre that doesn't show any signs of slowing.

Last year, overall publisher revenues for children's books were up 12%, to $2.78 billion, and e-books made astounding gains, according to BookStats, a collaboration of the Assn. of American Publishers and the Book Industry Study Group.

New 'tweener' books by Stefan Bachmann, Jasper Fforde and Emily Fairlie are among the new titlesIn the middle-grade genre, Jeff Kinney's "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" has begun a bevy of illustrated, humorous, confessional-style bestsellers, which will continue in the coming months.   Many forthcoming children's books have already been snatched up by movie studios.
The young adult, or YA, category is particularly healthy as a result of blockbuster franchises and strong crossover readership. Many young adult books are read as much by adults as they are by their intended teen audiences.

Scholastic reports that 50% of the readers of "The Hunger Games" are adults. And more than half of the readers of the bestseller "Divergent" by Veronica Roth are at least 25 years old, according to a HarperCollins spokeswoman.

The stigma of adults "reading down" with children's titles is gone, said David Levithan, editorial director of Scholastic Press, which also published the Harry Potter series in the U.S.

"Adults have no hesitation at all to buy young adult anymore, so it's very easy to cross over," said Levithan, who anticipates high adult readership for "The Raven Boys," a mythological paranormal thriller kicking off a four-book series by "Shiver" trilogy author Maggie Stiefvater, another Scholastic writer.

Like "The Raven Boys," many of the most anticipated titles for fall hybridize genres. Libba Bray's "Diviners," for example, is paranormal historical fiction that follows a young woman during the Roaring '20s who becomes embroiled in an occult-related murder mystery.
Paramount has already optioned Bray's book for film, which shows that readers aren't the only ones interested in what's coming.

"We're finding as much interest from networks and studios. They are so hungry for teen content they're acquiring rights even before the books come out," said Susan Katz, president and publisher of HarperCollins Children's Books. On Tuesday, the publisher will release "Don't Turn Around" from debut author Michelle Gagnon. The thriller, about a teen computer hacker, has already been optioned for television.

"What seems to be different about the teen market as opposed to adult fiction is that young, first-time authors have a wide-open opportunity to sell like gangbusters," Katz said.

Veronica Roth was in college when she began writing "Divergent," the first book in a trilogy that will conclude next year. The series, which has sold 2 million copies since it began in May 2011, was recently optioned by Summit Entertainment, the production studio that brought Meyer's "Twilight" saga to the big screen.

Although overshadowed by the crossover appeal and attention paid to young adult books, the middle-grade, or tween, category for readers ages 8 to 12 is drawing a growing number of talented authors.
This fall also sees the release of several highly anticipated sequels in bestselling series, including new installments in Kinney's "Diary of a Wimpy Kid," Dav Pilkey's "Captain Underpants" and "Big Nate" by Lincoln Peirce.


  1. Thanks for such a great post Nancy. Why shouldn't we like buying well written young adult genre? It's fun, and keeps us young at heart. As usual, I loved your creative and innovative post.

    1. Thanks, Susan! It does keep us young at heart, and I adore the crossover part of reading and writing. And thanks for your nice words as well.

  2. Hi Nancy, As an adult reading YA and MG, I like the crossover. I started reading MG/YA as a teacher and parent of a teen. Now I prefer Mg/YA to adult fare, even preferring high MG to YA. With three PBs done and one "tween" story struggling, am now working on a MG story looking to develop into a novel and more. Hoping for MG, YA and adult readers when finished. Thanks for the encouragement.

  3. Hi, Penelope,

    Such a great comment. Thanks! So glad the crossover is happening as well. I, too, think the Harry Potter series was the catalyst, and happily, it's kept on rolling...

  4. Hi Nancy,
    I've been an avid reader of MG and YA, not to mention PBs, for a long time. Doesn't mean I don't ocassionally enjoy a good adult book, too. But I only buy kids books; I get the others from the library.

    1. Absolutely! I've been thinking more and more that kids' books do cut to the heart of learning about life in, dare I say, a more important way that adult books. I'm hooked!