Authors Profit From Encouraging Children to Read

Every author and publisher should be concerned about literacy and developing a love of reading in young children.

Whether you write for children or not, encouraging children to read benefits authors writing for any age. After all, children grow up to become adults. Children who love reading grow into adults who enjoy reading for pleasure and personal growth.

Sadly, the number of American children who say they love reading books for fun has dropped almost 10% in the last four years, according to a study of children in the United States by Scholastic. The study found that only 51% of children said they love or like reading books for fun, compared to 58% in 2012, and 60% in 2010.

To help promote literacy and encourage reading, the airline company JetBlue has partnered with Random House Children’s Books to develop a program called Soar with Reading. This program places vending machines that dispense brand-new, free books for kids aged infant to 14 years. Kids are allowed to take as many books as they are interested in from the vending machine with no strings attached.

I think what Soar with Reading is doing is fantastic. I would love to see a Christian organization provide a similar program featuring both wholesome children’s books as well as books that draw children to God. Fortunately, you don’t need to start a program on the scale of Soar with Reading to provide children free books that point to God.

A couple years ago, my community association installed Little Free Libraries in my neighborhood. I make sure that these little libraries constantly have a supply of good Christian books. It is one way that I can spread the Good News message and encourage reading.

You, too, can do your small part to promote the love of reading and share the Gospel. If you write and publish children’s books, why not share them with children via Little Free Libraries in your community? You can find a list of these library stands near you on the Little Free Library website. Be aware though that not all little libraries are registered on the site. I know the ones near my house are not.

While placing free Christian books in Little Free Libraries is for the primary purpose of encouraging reading and drawing children to a relationship with God, you can also use this activity for promotion. If you have a large number of Little Free Libraries near where you live, let your local community newspaper know what you are doing. If the newspaper picks up the story, the article will not only bring you publicity, it will also continue to encourage reading, and inform the community about Little Free Libraries.

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Children’s Book Sales Hold Strong

Those of us who are older than Millennials often feel a small amount of distress when we see children playing on phones and tablets and not reading. We wonder if reading is becoming a thing of the past. We fret over how to keep literacy alive and thriving when the competition of video games and electronic entertainment on screens is so prevalent.

Surprisingly, the news on children’s reading is not as bad as we fear. Families today invest a lot in their children. Many young parents are placing parenthood above career and financial success. With such a high value on good parenting, it is no surprise that children’s books are selling well and will most likely continue to sell well in the future.

Nielsen, a company that tracks book purchases and uses the data to help publishers stay abreast of industry trends, reports that following in regards to sales of children’s books:

  • The U.S. book market is stable, with little change year over year.
  • The children’s book market shows more growth than the overall U.S. book market. While the overall book market has grown 33 percent since 2004, the children’s book market has grown 52 percent growth since 2004, with a four percent compound annual growth rate.
  • Children’s book formats have seen growth since 2013–2014, with the most rapidly growing formats board books and boxed sets.
  • Religion is a category that is growing in both children’s fiction and nonfiction year over year.
  • The age group five to eight years accounts for almost 40 percent of children’s book purchases.

This last point—that books for 5- to 8-year-olds account for almost half of all book purchases—is good news for those who produce picture books. Picture books are generally designed for four- to eight-year-olds. So, if you are or have published a picture book, be encouraged by these statistics.

In fact, even though children are spending so much time on screens, it appears that they still prefer to read print books. Nielsen’s studies have found that only four percent of children’s fiction is sold in digital format. This means 96 percent of children’s fiction books are sold as print books.

Children need engaging books that point them to their creator. The news that children’s religious book sales are growing is heartening. The fact that the vast majority of children’s books are still purchased in print format means that the demand for print picture books is strong.

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Five Benefits of Children’s Books

November is Children’s Picture Book Month!

childrens-books

Fortunately, the children’s book market in the U.S. is robust. Nielson recently held their third conference on children’s books. They published some of the data that was shared at the conference. Here is some of note:

  • The children’s book market in the United States has grown about 52 percent since 2005.
  • The leading categories in juvenile fiction are media tie-ins, holiday and celebration-related books, along with comics and graphic novels.
  • Specialization and niche targeting appear to be key factors in success with children’s books.
  • YouTube takes over as the number one activity draw when kids in the United States turn 13 or 14, with books falling fast away at that point in the activities of surveyed children.

If you are an author of or publish children’s books the good news is that the children’s book market is strong. With November being Children’s Picture Book Month, you can take this month and next to highly promote your books. After all, November highlights children’s books and December is a great month to promote your children’s books as great gifts.

Remind your audience that giving children books as gift is offering them more than just a book. After all, reading:

  1. Helps wire the child’s brain for learning.
  2. Helps ensure academic success.
  3. Enhances concentration and discipline.
  4. Improves language skills for communication.
  5. Ignites the child’s creativity and imagination.

If you have a Christian children’s book, then your book provides the added benefit of introducing the child to their creator. A benefit that has eternal impact. After all, that is why my husband and I produced Baby Bible Board Books. We wanted infants and toddlers to learn about and connect with Jesus.

If you are an author or publisher of children’s books, take advantage of this time of year to promote these titles. If you are not an author of children’s books, then be sure to gift books to the children in your life this holiday season.

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