The children’s book market is worth around £340 million in the UK alone. For the last few years, the only growth in book sales has come from the children’s market. The UK’s best-selling author, across all sectors is Julia Donaldson who writes picture books for the under-5. (The Gruffalo and Room on the Broom are worth a peek if you don’t know her work). In fact, if you put The Bible and The Quran to one side, six of what are believed to be the seven top selling books of all time, were originally written for the children’s market. Try guessing the titles – check-out the image gallery for the answers.
Somehow, despite their financial and sales success, the creators of children’s books are still not viewed as “proper” or “serious” authors. From Enid Blyton to JK Rowling, being a successful children’s writer has never been taken as seriously as their adult equivalents. This is ironic when you consider children’s authors have to win over an audience famous for short attention spans and outrageously vivid imaginations. From a bookseller’s standpoint, their works are joyous, inventive, engaging and often very, very funny. From hat stealing rabbits and feminist princesses to child detectives and survivors of bullying, this is storytelling at its very best.
When many of us were growing up there were much fewer choices available across the age groups, and older children were often pushed to adult writers they were not necessarily suited to. (John Steinbeck is a magnificent writer but probably rather off-putting for the struggling reader). Today, gripping series such as Percy Jackson or The Hunger Games offer layered and thought-provoking reading for their audiences. It is also important for adults to remember that not everything a child reads needs to be worthy or “improving”. The joy of reading is one of the biggest gifts we can give children, and reading just for fun is a key part of that.
If you have children in your life, go raid their bookshelves and see what you’ve been missing out on. If you don’t have children of your own, or are out of the loop in this area – here is a Beginner’s Guide to the authors you should have a look at.
Under 5’s Julia Donaldson, Jon Klassen, Chris Haughton
5-8 Pamela Butchart, Cressida Cowell, Liz Pichon, Chris Riddell
9-11 David Walliams, Chris Colfer,
11-13 Lauren Child, Holly Smale, Rick Riordan
Teen Sarah J Maas, Patrick Ness, Suzanne Collins
Go on. Try a couple and discover your inner child!