Issues and Trends in Children’s Literature

Children’s literature is changing every year and so are the trends. Reputable leaders in children’s literature work hard to stay current with the trends and issues so they can provide the right books for children. They must evaluate what types of books are popular with children and order those books for their library.  I was curious about the issues and trends in children’s literature so I met with our local librarian, Mrs. Davis, and asked her a couple of questions. I was able to learn so much from Mrs. Davis so I would like to share this information with you!

I also am going to share with you what reputable leaders in children’s literature have to say about the same questions I asked Mrs.Davis.

Let me start off by telling you a little bit about Mrs. Davis (stage name to protect her identity) and her library. She has only been a librarian for 5 years, however she is only 29 years old so she is one of the youngest librarians I have met. Her library is located in a small town with a population of about 1,ooo people.

Q1: What is your favorite book to share with children? “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” was a fun story about letters in the alphabet trying to climb up a coconut tree. I like to share this book with young children because it has rhyming words and the “chorus” of the story is easy for them to remember.

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Want to listen to Chick Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Danielle Steinberg (Masters in Education & Part of PBS Parents Team): There are many benefits of reading rhyming books with kids; practicing patterns and improving memorization skills, recognizing rhythms, increasing phonological awareness and phonetic ability are just a few.

Q2: What are the current trends you see in children’s literature? Recently, I have noticed many kids checking out the series, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid”. My library has each book in this series as an audio book as well, which is another trend I am seeing. Younger children really enjoy any picture book that has a colorful cover and they tend to have animals as the characters. “The Gruffalo” and “Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty” are trending at my library. 

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Michael Rich (Director of Children’s Center on Media and Child Health): Audiobooks are valuable media for your children because they don’t pre-digest imagery for them. As your kids listen to the stories, they’re given the exquisite experience of actively imagining the worlds they’re hearing about.

Q3: What are your thoughts on E-books? I think e-books are great to use at home. However, I still prefer children to read an actual book. Our library has no way of checking out an ebook to a child yet. Hopefully in the future it is something we will be able to use here. 

Jim Taylor (Physiologist & author of Raising Generation Tech): Devices can distance little kids from the real world. If they’re only exposed to e-readers, kids lose the tactile experience of handling a traditional book, turning its pages, or sharing their faves with friends.

Q4:When presenting or reading books to children, do you ever use interactive technologies like smart boards, i-Pads or some kind of e-reader tablet? I would love to use these types of devices, however the library does not have money in our budget for these types of devices. 

Pat Losinski (CEO of the Columbus Metropolitan Library): Libraries need to begin making the transition from outputs to community-based outcomes. Right now, about 70 to 80 percent of libraries’ operating budgets are still going to the distribution of physical items, and that has to change.

Q5: How has the internet and advancements in technology effected children’s book choices? I have yet to see a child use our Encyclopedia set! 99% of the children that come into my library are checking out books to read for pleasure. Information is now learned through the internet. Children are always checking out our audio books as well. 

Online Computer Library Center: Users rely heavily, if not exclusively, on Internet search engines for information search tasks.  Their survey showed that 84% of respondents reported starting a search on a search engine, and not a single respondent reported beginning on library websites

Q6: How have the Common Core Standards impacted you? I am continuing to order nonfiction books, even though they are far less popular amongst children. I would like to meet with the school’s librarian to find out more about the materials I should be ordering.

 Margaux DelGuidice (Teacher-Librarian): Librarians must showcase their skills in librarian-led professional development workshops, to participate in Common Core meetings, and to promote the things librarians can provide.

Q7: I have researched that gender stereotypes is a issue in children’s literature. Do you have any experience with this being an issue? I have noticed that boys and girls will usually choose stories that have characters with their same gender. I do not find this a problem because boys and girls will have different interests. Most likely a boy does not want to read a story about princesses. 

Tricia Lowther ( Writer & Campaigner): Typical themes for boys include robots, dinosaurs, astronauts, vehicles, football and pirates; while girls are allowed princesses, fairies, make-up, flowers, butterflies, fashion and cute animals. There’s nothing wrong with these things, but it is wrong when they are repeatedly presented as only for one gender.

Q8: Does your library provide multicultural children’s books? We live in a community that is not very diverse. I would have to say our library does not have a large multicultural selection. Since our community does not give children much exposure to different cultures I would like to get more books that can teach them about different ways of life. 

Marianne Grasso (Teacher-Librarian,Teacher Librarianship Professional Learning Group committee member): By including multicultural literature in the school library fiction collection, teacher librarians ensure they provide their students with texts that represent the culturally diverse classrooms and home environments in this country, and those across the globe

Q9:How do you think children benefit from picture books? Picture books with no text allow children to use their imagination and create their own story!

J. Richard Gentry (University professor & elementary teacher):Picture books stimulate a state of mind in children that words alone can’t achieve

Q10: How do parents effect their child’s reading habits? Children don’t walk to the library. Parents need to take the time to bring their child to our library. They also need to find time to read to their child and listen to their child read. 

Daniel Willingham (Psychology professor):You should model reading, make reading pleasurable, read aloud to your kid in situations that are warm and create positive associations

References

Albanese, A. (2013). For Libraries, the Common Core Presents Extraordinary Opportunity. Retrieved from http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-industry-news/article/55831-for-libraries-the-common-core-presents-extraordinary-opportunity.html

Behrends, S. (2012). Libraries vs. Google in the 21st Century. Retrieved from https://theidaholibrarian.wordpress.com/2012/11/12/libraries-vs-google/

Boston Children’s Hospital. (2010). Are Audiobooks a Good Use of Kids’             time?. Retrieved from https://thriving.childrenshospital.org/are-audiobooks-a- good-use-of-kids-time/

Deam, J. (2016). E-Books vs. Print: What Parents Need to Know. Retrieved from http://www.scholastic.com/parents/resources/article/developing-reading-skills/e-books-vs-print-what-parents-need-to-know

Grasso, M. (2013). The Importance of Multicultural Literature. Retrieved from http://www2.curriculum.edu.au/scis/issue_96/articles/the_importance_of_multicultural_literature.html

Lowther, T. (2014). Children’s Books Still Promote Gender Stereotypes. Retrieved from https://newrepublic.com/article/116943/childrens-books-still-promote-gender-stereotypes

Ohi, D. (2013). Why Picture Books Are Important. Retrieved from http://inkygirl.com/inkygirl-main/2013/11/7/why-picture-books-are-important.html

Schutte, A. (2013). Libraries Use Digital Technology to Redefine Their Roles in Communities. Retrieved from http://www.knightfoundation.org/articles/libraries-use-digital-technology-redefine-roles-communities

Steinberg, D. (2016). Adventures In Learning. Retrieved from          http://www.pbs.org/parents/adventures-in-learning/2014/08/rhyming-books-kids/

Turner, C. (2015). Q&A: Raising Kids Who Want To Read. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2015/03/17/387774026/q-a-raising-kids-who-want-to-read

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