The bright future of children’s literature
By Guest Blogger on October 11th, 2012
This week, thousands of book people are in Frankfurt, Germany, for the Frankfurt Book Fair (the world’s largest book fair!). On Tuesday, October 9, Scholastic Chairman and CEO Dick Robinson gave a talk on the history and future of children’s book publishing. It was so moving, we thought we’d excerpt some of our favorite parts.
“Despite their lower profile, children’s books are often steady, profitable earners which can stay in print for generations. Each year a new group of children respond eagerly to books they have not seen before, even if those books have been beloved by their parents and grandparents, whether Good Night Moon, Where The Wild Things Are, Peter Rabbit, Charlotte’s Web or Lord of the Rings. In the past ten years, amazingly gifted authors have chosen to write children’s or young adult books, such as J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter and Suzanne Collins of The Hunger Games—both of whose brilliant stories became mass cultural experiences for a broad audience of both children and adults, on their way to becoming classics for future generations. So there is now much more juice in children’s publishing as part of the larger business of media franchises based on our great children’s stories. And that will continue because of the genius of the authors who have chosen the field of children’s books, now reaching at the top end into the adult market. In fact, in the last 12 months, children’s publishing has had a great year, leading the families of young readers into bookstores to buy books for all ages.”
“…In the digital world of the 21st century, educators have intensified their drive to improve literacy and reading, as students need even better skills to cope with the profusion of information, and need greater competence in reading and understanding to perform the more complex tasks required by the global economy.
“…Children’s publishing, always an important but somewhat under-recognized part of the book industry, will likely become the leader in pioneering new forms of reading because, as we all know from watching babies with iPads, children are intuitively connected to digital pictures and images. As schools and families adopt ereaders and tablets, children’s books, with its history of graphic innovation, will quickly develop new forms of storytelling and informational publishing, led by the children themselves who will easily embrace the digital formats. The global reach of these formats will once again broaden the reading market, making information and stories for children even more easily available, leading to the further democratization of markets around the world.
“…While print picture books will continue their strong history and will prevail as core children’s literature, children’s trade and educational publishing will improvise new forms of book creation and distribution, so our publishing world could be quite different by 2020. In that year Scholastic will celebrate its hundredth anniversary as a publisher and distributor of children’s content in print and ebooks for schools and homes in both traditional and in new creative forms that will further extend the global reach of children’s literature and information publishing. This will require new editorial and technical skills, and continued expertise in marketing and distribution, but the results could make book publishing an even more important part of children’s reading and learning around the world.
“In short, children’s books and reading will continue to innovate and expand, as new forms of distribution create new opportunities for the great creative content that is at the heart of the drive by authors and publishers to explain and expand the world of our children.”
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