Children's Book Council Reviews Dramatic Rise of Graphic Novels Among Children

(From l.): Matthew Baldacci, Erin Berger, Cristin Stickles, and Chantalle Uzan
Photo from Publishers Weekly 

The Children's Book Council (CBC) is a nonprofit trade association of children's book publishers based in North America that is dedicated to supporting the industry and promoting children's books and reading. One of the resources the CBC provides is their CBC Forum Series, a discussion forum that provides pertinent industry information and discussions on current trends and issues. These forums consist of a panel of knowledgeable professionals and consumers from inside and outside the publishing industry such as publishers, librarians, and educators.  

On March 2, the CBC held a forum dedicated to reviewing the 2016 sales trends of children's books. The panel consisted of Erin Berger (VP and Creative Marketing Director of Penguin Random House), Cristin Stickles (Children's and YA buyer), McNally Jackson Books, and Chantalle Uzan (Senior Young Adult Librarian at New York Public Library) with Matthew Baldacci (Director of Business Development at Shelf Awareness) moderating.

The conversations started with an overview of 2016 trends paired with expectations for 2017 and the panelists projections on the types of books that might be missing from library and bookstore shelves. Stickles reported a strong interest in books she described as "emotional tool kits," or titles that address readers' emotional or psychological well-being, as extremely popular among children and young adult readers last year. Further, Uzan observed that many parents sought out books that focused on sight words while other readers were interested in books with authentic voices representing diverse experiences. Working at the Francis Martin Library in the Bronx and serving an international community of library patrons, Uzan reports that from her perspective, readers want "quality stories that better represent their own realities." 

Following these observations, the panelists discussed the dramatic rise of graphic novels among young readers. The panel unanimously agreed that the format is the "fastest growing, best performing category" in children's books, and each of them find themselves dedicating more shelf and floor space to these titles. Uzan calls the graphic novels the "missing link" between on-screen engagment and immersion in a print book. Despite the growth of the category, Uzan discusses some resistance among parents, particularly among immigrant communities, who do not associate graphic novels with serious reading. 

The panel named some of the most popular graphic novels of 2016 included Hope Larson's adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time, Raina Telgemeier's Smile and Sisters, the Babysitters Club series, and Brian Selznick's The Invention of Hugo Cabret

The forum closed by addressing how best to draw readers into bookstores and libraries along with ways publishers, librarians, and booksellers can work together to build community in 2017 and beyond. Berger pointed out that providing "exclusive, in-store experiences" that can't be replicated is pivotal in drawing readers to bookstores, adding that nothing compares to word of mouth when it comes to gaining interest in a book or event. 

The full video of the CBC Forum series is available to CBC members here.

For a list of comparable titles to CBC's shortlist of 2016 favorites, see below:

Title Publisher ISBN, Price
Peter David's Artful Action Lab 9781632292421, $14.99
Paper Girls Vol 3 Image Comics 9781534302235, $12.99
Ocean of Secrets Tokyopop 9781427857149, $10.99
Small Favors Oni Press 9781620103982, $29.99
Our Cats Are More Famous Than Us Oni Press 9781620103838, $39.99
Cloudia and Rex Magnetic Press 9781942367307, $11.99
The Sound of the World By Heart Lion Forge 9781941302385, $24.99
Street Angel: After School Kung Fu Special Image Comics 9781534302877, $19.99
Pirouette Vol 1 Black Mask Comics 9781628751130, $9.99




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