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Guest Post: Trends in Children’s Books and Young Adult Novels, by Bianca Schulze of The Children’s Book Review

Bianca Schulze is the founder of The Children’s Book Review, a resource devoted to children’s literature and recognized by the American Library Association as a ‘Great Website for Kids.’ She is a reader, reviewer, mother and children’s book lover. Combined with her love of books and experience as a children’s bookseller, Bianca’s goal is to share her passion to help grow readers.  Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, she now lives with her husband and three children near Boulder, Colorado.   You can visit her at http://www.thechildrensbookreview.com, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Trends in Children’s Books and Young Adult Novels

The trends in kids and teen literature ebb and flow, telling the story of current and past reading fashions. Occasionally it can get really exciting when there is a total plot twist that makes a distinct shift to the trajectory of the “reading trends” story—such as the uptake of graphic novels when Scholastic introduced the Graphix imprint in 2005.

Thanks to the grassroots organization We Need Diverse Books™, one of the latest and greatest progressions to be seen is the inclusion of literature that reflects and honors the lives of all young people—this is certainly an onward and upward trend that must stay the course. Campaigns like “The Reading without Walls Challenge” from the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Gene Leun Yang, and Simon & Schuster’s new imprint Salaam Reads, are helping solidify this as more than just a trend—inclusion and diversity are a necessity that should become a fundamental part of any publishing groups’ line-up of work.

Fantasy novels for teens had moved over for dystopian works and realistic fiction, but now it seems that fantasy is resurging in the young adult genre. While some trends come and go, others cycle in and out and back again. Below, is a list of what appears to be in vogue—only time will tell which trends are here to stay and which flavors of the month will be gone by 2018.

All Ages Book Trends

Picture Book Trends

  • Less words per page and punchy humor
  • Triangle, written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen
  • Kindness, empathy, and unexpected friendship
  • We’re All Wonders, by R.J. Palacio
  • Interactive storylines that include using the physical book itself as part of the storytelling
  • Bunny Slopes, by Claudia Reuda
  • Non-fiction books for younger readers
  • Over and Under the Pond, by Kate Messner

Middle Grade Book Trends

  • Highly illustrated chapter books and graphic novels with relatable female characters
  • Frazzled, by Booki Vivat
  • Emotive realism with a classic feel
  • Pax, written by Sara Pennypacker and illustrated by Jon Klassen
  • Focus on family and friendships
  • Hello, Universe, written by Erin Entrada and illustrated Isabel Roxas
  • Fractured and retold fairytales that break down classics and reinvent or retell them with a contemporary edge
  • Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book, by Jennifer Donnelly
  • Alternative history and documentary novels, also known as creative non-fiction
  • Loving Vs. Virginia: A Documentary Novel of the Landmark Civil Rights Case, written by Patricia Hruby Powell and illustrated by Shadra Strickland

Young Adult Book Trends

While this is what I’m seeing now, I also expect to see women’s history books written to be read by all genders and all ages, and stories with politically charged plots—perhaps dystopian novels will cycle strongly through the YA scene again, but they will have to be outstanding to stay afloat and shine like a beacon in the flooded market of the all-encompassing genre that is young adult novels.


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