Trend Alert: Scholastic Book Clubs editors make their top picks for 2019

Allyson Barkan  //  Dec 18, 2018

Trend Alert: Scholastic Book Clubs editors make their top picks for 2019

What was all the rage in 2018, and what trends can we expect to see in the year ahead?

Year after year, Scholastic Book Clubs can be counted on to get the perfect book into the hands of young readers. With their fingers on the pulse of what kids want in the books they read for fun, Scholastic Book Club editors have mined the biggest trends of 2018 and put together a list that aims to help families build their home libraries with books their kids will love. All titles will be available for purchase through Scholastic Book Clubs in 2019, so be sure to ask your child's teacher if their classroom or school offers Scholastic Books Clubs!

One takeaway about what kids love across the board? Diversity in the characters they meet and the stories they read. Not simply a trend, diversity is something larger that Clubs editors have noticed kids crave as part of each trend. Whether in a graphic novel or a book about sports or STEAM, kids want to see characters that look like them, their friends, and the many people they see out in the real world.

Without further ado, here are Scholastic Book Clubs’ picks for 2018’s biggest trends, and what we can expect to see more of in the year to come:

Kids of all ages LOVE graphic novels and comics

While these formats have been around for ages, there has recently been a huge uptick in popularity. Dog Man (Scholastic) transcends age and is popular across the board, while Amulet’s newest edition Amulet #8: Supernova (Scholastic) is a big hit with older readers. Many of the most popular series for readers in upper elementary grades are graphic novels as well, with titles like Dog Man, Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Amulet) and Bad Guys (Scholastic) among the favorites, and there’s a growing interest among younger readers in full-color chapter book series like Narwhal and Jelly (Tundra) and Owl Diaries (Scholastic). Even classic characters like The Babysitter’s Club (Scholastic) are getting in on the fun, with The Babysitter’s Club graphic novels breathing fresh air into the beloved series. For kids looking to get their hands on new graphic novels, Cardboard Kingdom (Random House Children’s Books) and Cucumber Quest (First Second) will be available in January Clubs, and Max and the Midnights (Random House Children’s Books) will be available in March.

Comfort in the familiar

Trends come and go, but some things never change. Similar to past years, books and series like Harry Potter (Scholastic), Diary of a Wimpy Kid, A Wrinkle in Time (Square Fish) and The One and Only Ivan (HarperCollins) continue to captivate readers, as do established authors who stand the test of time with both classic titles and new releases. Superstars like James Patterson (Dog Diaries, Little, Brown and Company), Kwame Alexander (The Crossover, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), Christopher Paul Curtis (The Journey of Little Charlie, Scholastic), Rachel Renee Russell (Dork Diaries, Aladdin), Andrew Clements (Frindle, Atheneum), April Henry (The Lonely Dead, Henry Holt and Co.), Rick Riordan (Percy Jackson & the Olympians, Disney Press), Kate DiCamillo (Louisiana’s Way Home, Candlewick Press), and Melissa de la Cruz (The Descendants, Disney Hyperion) know what kids want, and keep delivering.

Fantastic Beasts…and other friends

Fantastic beasts are having a moment, and they’re bringing their friends along for the ride! While fantastical creatures like unicorns, mermaids and dragons continue to shine, unique real-life animals like peacocks, llamas and goats are also getting their time in the spotlight. Books like Wonky Donkey (Scholastic), Pig the Pug (Scholastic), Couch for Llama (Sterling Children’s Books), and A Unicorn Named Sparkle: Sparkle’s First Christmas (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), will have any animal lover squealing with delight. Unicorn aficionados should seek out Unicorn Mad Libs (Penguin Young Readers Group), My Secret Unicorn series (Scholastic), Adopt-a-Unicorn Set (Scholastic), the Unicorn School series (Scholastic), and The Secret Rescuers: The Sky Unicorn (Aladdin), while fans of mermaids should be sure to check out How to Catch a Mermaid (Sourcebooks). Lastly, dragon fiends can find adventure with the Wings of Fire (Scholastic) and Erth Dragons (Scholastic) series.

Screen to page is all the rage 

Media has the ability to draw in even the most reluctant of readers. When kids see books with some sort of media tie-in, they’re likely to engage. Titles related to gaming such as Pokémon (Scholastic), Naruto (VIZ Media LLC), Minecraft (Random House), Popular MMOs (HarperCollins) and Hello Neighbor (Scholastic) are big with kids right now. On the TV and movie front, How to Train Your Dragon (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers), Lego Ninjago (Scholastic), and of course Goosebumps (Scholastic) are capturing the imaginations of readers, as are books that complement holiday movies like Ralph Breaks the Internet, Into the Spider-Verse and The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. And don’t underestimate the power of YouTube! Kids love books related to online personalities and characters like Karina Garcia (little bee books), Pusheen (Touchstone), Kleptocats (Scholastic), and JoJo and BowBow (Amulet).

Sports Sports Sports

Sports titles, both fiction and non-fiction, are experiencing a bit of a comeback. Mike Lupica continues to deliver stories filled with both action and heart, as evidenced with his newest paperback, Lone Stars (Penguin Publishing Group). Jason Reynold’s luminous Track Series (Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books) has also found a solid audience. And in non-fiction, kids are gravitating to photographic books focused on players and stats like Soccer Superstars (Triumph Books) and Football Superstars (Scholastic).

Kids aren’t afraid of being scared

Among older readers, genuinely scary novels, rather than more campy humor, are trending. Horror books like What Waits in the Water (Scholastic), The Collector (Scholastic), and Count All Her Bones (Square Fish) are connecting with teens and tweens at unprecedented levels, while Five Nights at Freddy’s (Scholastic) and Shadow House (Scholastic) are massive hits with pre-teen audiences.

STEAM keeps gaining more…steam

STEAM isn’t going anywhere, and it’s now reaching more audiences and new readers with broader topics. What was once a focused topic is now being incorporated into books for readers across all levels and demographics. We’ll see a wave of STEAM-themed publishing for babies and toddlers in 2019, including This Little Scientist (Simon & Schuster), available this spring, and Future Astronaut (Scholastic), the newest Future Baby Board Book, coming this summer. For older kids, popular books and series that incorporate STEAM include Hidden Figures Young Reader’s Edition (HarperCollins), Virtual Reality: Space, The Atlas Obscura Explorer’s Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid (Workman), Star Wars Makers Lab (DK), and various science/activity kits like Klutz’s Grow Your Own Crystal Mini Worlds, as well as Chasing Space: Young Reader’s Edition (HarperCollins) coming to Clubs in January 2019.