Trends in Children’s Literature (and some suggested variations)
Interning at MacKids has given me the opportunity to check out a lot of children’s books, and a few patterns have emerged. Here are some thoughts on what’s in! - Katherine Damm
What is it about bears that make them such lovable children’s book characters? Is it their adorably awkward gait, fuzzy exterior, or just that “bear” rhymes with a lot of words? Whatever it is, I am a fan of this theme. I want to live in a world where bears are not dangerous wild animals, but are instead cuddly creatures who like to hang out with their forest friends—friends that they definitely don’t want to eat.
Variations I’d like to see: huggable sharks, whimsical scorpions, mischievous man o’ wars.
This totally makes sense. Bedtime is contagious, like yawns. If a child sees a well-behaved peer getting down with sleepytimes, they’re much more likely to go to bed without a fuss. But books aren’t just for bedtime. They’re for all day, every day! That’s why I propose…
Variation I’d like to see: Wake up, surprise story-time! (This is best done between the hours of 12am and 4am.)
There are some great picture books about children and grandparents. The kids are sweet, the grandparents are role-models, and nobody ever says anything that has become politically incorrect within the past twenty years just a little too loudly for comfort while you’re out and about.
Variation I’d like to see: A picture book about my grandmother specifically. We call her Mimi, and she is a witty southern lady who pointedly compliments my “lingerie” when I wear shirts without sleeves.
Trend: Dystopian Fiction
This trend is really strong in Young Adult literature right now. High school is pretty dystopian as it is—amiright?? But it can help put acne, gossip and boy/girl problems into perspective when you see powerful role models fighting to survive in their messed-up world who also struggle with acne, gossip and boy/girl problems.
Variation I’d like to see: Utopian fiction. (Sure, dystopian fiction can teach you to look at today’s society through a critical lens, but that can be a total bummer.)
Suggested Reading: Pretty much any book
This trend spans all age ranges, from baby books to the big, bad world of adult literature. Friends do everything together. They support each other, bicker, go on adventures, fight demons, and sometimes realize their feelings for one another and smooch. (Those last two are much more common in YA than other genres.)
Variation I’d like to see: Acquaintanceship. (Friendship is easy. Acquaintanceship is complicated. Do you say hi and chat? Just say hi? Wave? Avoid eye contact until the last possible second and then make a weird sound? I wish these questions had been addressed a long time ago.)
Any trends you’ve noticed?