What’s hot in children’s literature, plus how to encourage reading

September 28, 2012

People often tease me that the only books I read are digital, but I have shelves of books made from real paper plus dozens of kids’ books that say otherwise. I came across this interesting article on About.com about trends in kids’ literature for this year. If you’re a bookworm, or encourage reading (either in paper or digital form), here’s what’s hot, according to Mary Fellows, President of the Association for Library Service to Children (US based). There are also tips on how to raise a reader.

1. What are some of the trends in children’s literature that you see for 2012?

Some really excellent nonfiction is being published, from a beautifully illustrated picture book about ducks to a history relating how Superman comics changed the world by combating the KKK. The selection of informational books for children is so rich right now.

2. Do you see particular formats (picture books, beginning reader books, graphic novels, etc.) increasing in popularity or broadening their audience?

Graphic novels are booming. We’re getting more quality GNs, and the variety of subjects and age levels the books cover is expanding. We’re slowly reaching parents and teachers with the message that reading a graphic novel is reading. GN readers learn the same narrative structure in comics as in text-only books, and they learn inference as well. Plus, the ability to “read” images is an essential 21st century skill – we’re a visual culture now.

3. Are there certain themes or subjects that are particularly popular with preschoolers? beginning readers? middle grade readers?

There are some perennially popular subjects, such as dinosaurs and books on drawing for younger children, and subjects that are in huge demand for a while, like vampires, before another type of series captures the spotlight. We’re lucky to have series like the Harry Potter books and the Twilight series. Those books draw kids in with interesting characters and plots, hook them through sequel after sequel, and then spin them out and onto other terrific and sometimes more demanding books.

4. Are your children’s librarians seeing an increase in requests for e-books from kids 7-12?

Our librarians tell me that kids don’t ask for e-reader titles; parents do. Most kids still seem to prefer to choose their own books by browsing through print books. However, more and more kids are requesting and getting their own e-readers, especially the e-readers that allow sharing of titles. Kids still like to pass along favourite books!

5. With kids’ love for technology, do you see kids 7-12 embracing e-readers and online children’s books and reading more as a result?

It’s all about adults providing multiple options – and finding the right option for their child. Some kids will love e-readers; load an e-reader up with lots of books and these kids will disappear into it. Some kids, even with the choice of an e-reader, will want a book that won’t get them grounded if they accidentally lose it. Some kids, with tablets, will find so many other distractions on them that reading an e-book isn’t something they do much. Many kids won’t have access to an e-reader or tablet, or to online books. We need all forms of books, and we need to work at engaging kids in the content – the stories or the information – not just the vehicle for delivering it.

6. Research has shown that boys generally don’t do as well in reading as girls and aren’t as interested in reading. Are there particular types of books or tips that you recommend to get boys reading?

Boys often respond better to informational books than to fiction. There are so many wonderful informational books being published now. One of ALSC’s awards, the Sibert Medal, honors the best informational book of the year for children. The list of past winners and honor books is a great place to start finding excellent books that will appeal to boys:http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia/sibertmedal. Funny books and graphic novels are also good with boys. There is an absolute bounty of excellent graphic novels for kids, tweens, and teens now. For boys – and girls – who are reluctant readers, graphic novels can be just the right hook. They’re fun, with bright colours and exciting visuals, and these visuals give the readers support in understanding the story.

7. What recommendations do you have for parents who are looking for good books to read aloud to their children?

Ask your librarian, of course! Librarians are the experts, and can use the information you provide about your child’s gender, age and interests to help you pick some engaging titles. If you want to browse for yourself, our library friends in Indiana offer some good lists:http://www.ilfonline.org/programs-awards/read-aloud-books/.

8. What recommendations do you have for parents on keeping their kids reading during the busy ‘tween years?

First, be sure you’re modeling reading. Even though tweens are starting to individuate from parents, you’re still their first role model. If you read a lot and enjoy it, your tween is more likely to pick up a book or magazine.

Secondly, keep reading aloud as a family. Kids can understand higher level vocabulary and concepts through listening than they can through reading. Also, tweens become teens. Get in the habit now of regularly reading together – either aloud or each individually reading the same book – and talking about what you read. That habit can strengthen your connection with your child during the challenging teen years, and allow you to discuss sensitive topics with the degree of distance a book character provides.


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1 Comment

  • Michelle

    Reading will never die and will be kept alive if the parents go about it in a fun manner and of course enthusiastically.

    For a small child, a trip to the library is an event. They have relinquish the books they borrowed and felt an affinity with and get new ones. The selection of books is always exciting. My son who is 3 years has read “Rabbit Foo Foo” which was an excellent and enjoyable read. He also loves Eric Carle’s books -“Pancakes, Pancakes” in particular.

    My daughter who is almost 6 years has started with the Roald Dahl books. I grew up on them and on the flipside, my husband didnt. They read these together and are really gaining much joy and entertainment from books like “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “The Twits.”

    Get them interested young and you hook them forever! Kids need an abstract and imaginery world besides the television, computer and tablets.

    September 28, 2012 at 7:00 am Reply
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