The Rise of the Readers

Hello! It’s been a bit of a while since my last post. Thanks to everyone who popped into the Winter Market at Ecolint, it was lovely meeting you!! While I was nervous that the toys and gadgets would tempt the kids more than the books, I was really impressed by the interest shown in books, from both parents and children.

That got me thinking… with a lot of people resorting to screen time for kids (I know I am guilty of it, sometimes you just need a break from your little ones) and the rise of digital media, has this affected or caused a downfall in books?

So I did a bit of research and here’s what seems to be  happening.

Despite the rise of digital media, marketing cutbacks from publishing houses and the closure (or lack) of libraries, there has been growth in the book publishing market. In the UK alone, 10 000 new children’s titles are published each year. Compared to 1998, when 34 million books were sold, 2 years ago, we were looking at 64 million books being sold. That’s a phenomenal jump taking into consideration the appeal and growth of television programming. So how come Kids Literature is growing simultaneously?

It comes down to 2 forces.

  1. Publishers, authors and illustrators have recognized the need to improve the content of books, as well as the finishing touches that go into books
  2. Parents are still nervous of the “ill-effects” of too much screen time and are trying to compensate with educational material. Also, as more parents are needing to work to cover household costs, the time spent with their kids is most often endeavoured to be quality time, with activities like reading, playing and talking (driving a bond).

Let’s delve a bit more into what I mean by “content of books”:

A generation (and more) ago, themes didn’t really mirror reality. We saw books that were more fantastical, as opposed to looking at current affairs. We are now seeing a rise in books covering more realistic topics such as female role players (as opposed to being the damsel in distress) or the ability for girl characters to also play the roles that were considered masculine, (eg, firefighters, engineers). A study conducted by Nielsen showed that majority of picture books were dominated by male characters and when the protagonist was not human (for example a machine or animal), the gender of that protagonist had a 73% chance of being male. That’s startling!

Kids literature is also moving away from what was seen as “odd” as parental roles, where you will start seeing role reversals, like dad’s looking after kids at home. There are now an increasing amount of books being published with mixed families of different ethnic, cultural and sexual backgrounds. Topics are also seen covering more relevant issues like mental health and bullying. All of these topics have just made books more inclusive for readers, making them feel part of the world they are travelling in, as opposed to reading books to escape from reality.

So in a nutshell, from a content point of view, globalisation and inclusivity seems to be the direction that books are moving into. Which I am SO HAPPY about!

In addition to this, publishers are improving the quality of printing. We are seeing glossier paper, more environmentally friendly paper. We are seeing finishing touches (with different textures and cut outs), ribbon bookmarks included in books, toys attached to books to incorporate learning through reading (seeing) and playing (feeling or experiencing).

All of this isn’t just a push from publishers. I have witnessed more demand for books with higher quality publishing and varying content. Parents have been asking me about books with more female lead characters, more educational and developmental books and more realistic books. It seems that with the limited resources parents have, (due to working constraints, financial constraints, time constraints), parents want to make sure that the time spent with their kids is quality time. And quality time means providing educational material or material that at least mirrors the world that our children are brought up in.

Below are just some of the best sellers I have seen (and that I have stock of in case you are interested).

And other titles which have been bestsellers include, (you can click on the titles for more information) :

  1. Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World
  2. Stories for Boys Who Dare to be Different
  3. Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls
  4. All the Ways to be Smart
  5. Have You Filled A Bucket Today? : A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids: 10th Anniversary Edition
  6. My Muslim Mate
  7. The Wonderful Things You Will Be

There are so many more impressive titles that the few above I have mentioned don’t even touch the iceberg. I am just so thrilled to be alive in a time when books are a true reflection of today and not just “(White) witch casts a spell on (White) princess and gets saved by a (White) Knight in Shining Armour”.

Let me know what your thoughts are on this? Do you prefer to read escapism or reality or a mixture of both? Have any books stood out for you that I can review?

 

Looking forward to hearing from you!

xxx Iman

 

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