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Production Controller

Production Assistant [JOB POSTING]

Job Title: Production Assistant, full time

Job Location: London, UK

The Quarto Group are looking for an enthusiastic and organised person to join their busy Children’s Production team. This is a great opportunity to work on a wide range of children’s books and learn about the production process.

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Why reading for pleasure is a serious business: Cressida Cowell on the vital importance of children’s literacy

I have spent fifteen years writing the How to Train Your Dragon books, and over those fifteen years I have lost count of the times people have asked me, ‘Have you ever thought of writing for adults?’ as if writing for children was some sort of second best activity, something you do before moving on to the higher level of writing for adults.

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On being a Rising Star: Sarah Plows interview

Sarah Plows manages the marketing and publicity team at Jessica Kingsley Publishers, having previously held positions in the marketing departments of Palgrave Macmillan and Robert Hale. She features on The Bookseller’s 2017 list of Rising Stars in the publishing industry. Here Norah Myers interviews her about her role and recent award. 

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Death of digital overstated in recent report

The Publishers Association numbers show consumer ebook sales have collapsed by 17 per cent, but physical book sales are up by 8 per cent[1]. The media took delight in Amazon bashing – “[The Kindle] was new and exciting,” says Cathryn Summerhayes, of Curtis Brown in the Guardian, “ but now they look so clunky and unhip, don’t they?”. Is this the death of digital? Absolutely not.

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Sven Huber

How technology can make reading fun: Sven Huber interview

Ahead of How technology can make reading fun, an event in London, we decided to interview the expert speakers. Sven Huber is founder & CEO of Boolino, creator of reading tools like Boolino Book Box and publisher of the unique literacy resource Fiction Express. 

1) Some people think Technology deters kids from reading, with young people choosing to play games and spend time on social media instead. Do you think this is the case?

This can be the case, more with tablets than eReaders. I think that regardless of format, the main goal should be to give children plenty of books to read. By giving a choice, children are more likely to connect and engage and if a child connects with the story and its characters, he or she will be more motivated to read on.

There are other things that can have a positive influence too, for example, showing an interest in the book your child is reading and discussing the story together. There has been always “competing” media around, first the radio, then television and video games and today the internet and apps. I believe it is more about the content and not so much about the book format.

2) What online tools have you seen which effectively encourage the love of reading?

Most readers love to share the books they are reading with friends. Online tools such as blogs, video blogs and websites like Boolino and Wattpad are great platforms for sharing and discovering books.

There are also deeper interactive reading tools which can enrich the experience, for example Fiction Express, the interactive e-book platform which allows readers to decide on the plot by voting online.

Fiction Express authors write a new chapter of a story every week, and at the end give three possible options for how the plot should continue. Young readers then vote online by choosing between the three options and, depending on what the winning vote is, the author writes the next chapter. This is a great example of how readers can become part of the creative process, and it tends to trigger high levels of motivation to follow the story. Children also have the possibility to interact directly with the author through the Fiction Express blog and by commenting or suggesting their own ideas for the ending.

3) What can teachers do to create an atmosphere in which children will read?

Ask the children to bring in their favourite books from home or libraries, and have them explain to the class why they love their books. Then facilitate book sharing. My 7- and 8-year old children discover a lot of books through their friends at school, and these tend to be the books they like most. It is so much more powerful for them to discover books they WANT to read, as opposed to telling them what they HAVE to read.

4) If a child actively hates reading, what do you think their parents and teachers should do?

Understand what topics the child is interested in and find books that focus on that topic. Read together, talk, and discuss the books in detail. Create a fun atmosphere. Routines really help too – parents can suggest reading together every day for 15 minutes as a joint activity. If a child actively hates reading, he or she has not yet discovered the joy of it and it is the parents’ and teachers’ role (in that order!) to facilitate this discovery.

Join us at How technology can make reading fun on 17th May, in London.

How technology can make reading fun

How technology can make reading fun: Louie Stowell interview

Reading opens up our minds to new experiences and unknown facts. However, with the rise in digital devices, today’s story telling has taken on a new dimension. Ahead of How technology can make reading fun, an event to explore ways of encouraging kids to read for pleasure when they are glued to their devices, we decided to interview the expert speakers. Louie Stowell writes non-fiction in-house for Usborne Publishing.

1) Some people think that Technology deters kids from reading, with young people choosing to play games and spend time on social media instead. Do you think this is the case?

I’m sure it’s true that kids spend a lot of time playing games and on social media, but I think that time can feed into a love of reading and story. A game can be a story – just one where you get to play a role. Reading a social media post is still reading. I suspect that trying to control how much time kids spend online is a bit of a losing game. Perhaps it would be better to come at it from the angle of, “How can parents and teachers provide creative opportunities online?” There’s a huge difference between dead-eyed staring at a screen, refreshing instagram for hours, and engaging online in a way that feeds your mind.

2) What online tools have you seen which effectively encourage the love of reading?

Writing for Fiction Express, I’ve seen the effect that interactive stories can have on readers. The kids reading my stories there came to the Fiction Express blog full of questions, ideas – even spinoff stories of their own. Any forum that allows children to express themselves and their opinions about books can be really helpful.

3) What can teachers do around their schools, to create an atmosphere in which children will read in breaks?

Create comfortable areas to read in, with beanbags and a range of books laid out in a tempting way. Incorporate active play into reading spaces – look at the Discover Story Centre in Stratford, and see how they use play areas in a way that inspires storytelling.

4) If a child actively hates reading, what do you think their parents and teachers should do?

Allow them to explore other ways of consuming stories. Perhaps comics will work for them? Perhaps audiobooks? I think the harder people push books as the only way to narrative, the more already-reluctant children will push back. Presenting reading as one mode of story consumption among many can make it seem less daunting, and presenting different media as part of a continuum means nothing is stigmatised, and children can find their own way to stories they love.

5) How can children be encouraged to read the classics?

It depends what you mean by the classics. Sometimes, it’s about broadening what you consider the canon to be – don’t just fall back on Dickens, Austen, Tolstoy – think about broader world literature. Also: start them on retellings rather than the originals. In some cases, the retellings are better. For example, Rosemary Sutcliffe’s Dragonslayer is the best version of Beowulf. (Sorry, Seamus Heaney – she left out all the boring bits about who’s related to who, and stuck to the monster parts, she wins.)

6) Finally, what was your favourite book to read as a child and why?

Lord of the Rings. Interestingly, Tolkien was also my first major experience of multimedia storytelling – I read the book, watched the cartoon, listened to the BBC radio play, read a comic of The Hobbit and listened to the book on tape on a loop. (This was the 80s. It was a literal tape.)

Hear Louie at How technology can make reading fun on 17th May in London. Tickets here.

children publishing

Publishing for children: a thought-piece [winning blog idea October]

Each month BookMachine offers a community member, with great ideas, the chance to write on the site. This month Barb Kuntova, a publishing student at University of Stirling, had the winning idea. She is very much interested in children’s publishing and poetry publishing. You can follow her on Twitter (@ibreakfastbooks), instagram (@laylajaglovs), or read her blog (http://thecoffeewoods.wordpress.com).

Children’s publishing is definitely at its peak – never have there been so many children’s books published as there are now.

Diversity is a hot topic and an important consideration. It is important to think about including a range of races, disabilities throughout books, and consider learning difficulties and the fact that some children find it very difficult to read. This should not be confused with not wanting to read. We need to include as much diversity as possible in children’s books – represent them in fiction as well as non-fiction, so that they know it is okay to be themselves.

Some people assume that writing and publishing for children would be the easiest way to write. There is nothing easy about publishing for children and, more importantly, it is most definitely not easy to write books for children – especially write them well.

Lots of people think they can write picture books, for example. Picture books need to be short, make sense, help development and be readable for the hundredth time for the parent as well. Not an easy task.

When we are children, we are the most curious, and question things more than at any other point in our lives. Children will question everything in your book: plot holes, character holes and lazy development of the plot.

The difficulty about publishing books for children is that there is not one target audience, but two. Children are rarely the buyers of the books. It is their parents or teachers who do the book selection and the book purchases, which, for a publisher, means that they have to target their book campaigns towards two separate audiences.

One of the ways authors find audience for their titles nowadays is through social media. However, if you are writing for children, you cannot, and indeed should not, have contact with children through social media. This means writers need to find different ways of interesting their readers – and their buyers.

Children’s non-fiction books are also on the rise. It shows just how interested children are in the world around them. They want to learn. They want to know. And they want to read. Let’s make it even easier for them to do this and keen focusing our energies on this upward trend!

Some of the ideas in this article were inspired by Kathryn Ross (literary agent) and her visit to the University of Stirling.

Production Controller – Children’s Books [JOB POSTING]

A London-based, highly-successful children’s publisher is looking to recruit a switched on, motivated and experienced production professional. This is a broad production role with the opportunity to become involved in all aspects of the production process, and oversee production of the children’s books and other related products.

Key responsibilities will include, but are not limited to:

  • Project managing new titles and reprints from conception to delivery, both mono and 4 colour printed books to digital and audio versions.
  • Estimate and cost new projects
  • Negotiate prices, so books are produced within budget and to required quality standards
  • Place work with suppliers and agree deadlines
  • Update and communicate schedules to relevant parties, including chairing progress meetings
  • Check and code invoices
  • Monitor and assist with supply of relevant sales materials to sales departments

This is a wonderful opportunity to work with some of the finest children’s books and products on the market and the successful person will have a good understanding of print and reprographic processes for a wide variety of products. You will have experience of negotiating, organising and planning, as well as problem solving and dealing with suppliers. Strong project management skills are essential as are demonstrable experience of print and book manufacturing processes. A knowledge of safety testing would be a distinct advantage.

For further details of this role, please forward your CV and a short letter outlining your salary expectations and availability. This is a permanent production role which will be office based.

cv@redwoodrecruitment.com or call 020 7048 6223

Trends in children’s publishing: Interview with Charlotte Eyre

Charlotte Eyre is Children’s Editor at The Bookseller, covering the UK children’s and YA book market. She is also chair of the , and programmes the annual Bookseller Children’s Conference. Here Norah Myers interviews her. 

1) What are the current trends in children’s publishing and how do you see them evolving through the rest of 2016?

Publishers are more and more looking to publish books that will become brands, as they want the film, TV and merchandise opportunities, rather than publish stories for their own sake.

Celebrity and YouTube publishing is also hugely popular, as a YouTuber with a massive following has an instant audience to buy a book.

Also, there’s been a lot of really great middle-grade fiction recently and it seems like many publishers are focusing on fiction for this younger age group rather than YA, although they haven’t forgotten their teen audience.

In terms of these trends going forward, the bigger publishers will focus more and more on licensing and brands, leaving room for the smaller independents to focus on author-led publishing. I can’t see the trend for celebrity and YouTube publishing going away until one of these books massively fails, in which case publishers will start to tread more carefully, but it’s hard to say when and if that will happen. Finally, publishers will continue to look for fantastic middle-grade fiction although I know they are also keeping their eye out for the next YA hit. The industry is definitely hungry for the next Hunger Games or Divergent.

2) How have the recent sales of Harry Potter and The Cursed Child affected the children’s and YA market?

The success of J K Rowling several years ago helped create one of the biggest growth surges children’s publishing has ever seen, which is partly why the industry is booming at the moment. However, ‘J K Rowling’s Wizarding World’ is now such a well-oiled media machine I think most people think of Harry Potter as being a category of its own. If you’re a publisher with a Harry Potter licensing deal, the success of Harry Potter and The Cursed Child is great for you. If not, it’s probably not going to affect you either way.

3) What are the strongest diversity-based themes you see in children’s literature, and what do you hope to see more of?

The lack of diversity in children’s publishing is still an issue and no-one has seemingly solved the problem yet. There have been a few YA novels where the authors have determinedly included a range of diverse characters but these kinds of books sometimes feel like the writer is just ticking off a checklist.

I’d like to read books from a more diverse range of authors because then the stories would be more authentic, in my opinion. I’d also really like to read an adventure story where a BAME character is the lead rather than a side-kick.

I’d also like to see more northern stories.

4) How has digital publishing affected the children’s and YA market?

The ebook revolution has had little or no effect on the children’s and YA market. Children don’t read ebooks, as their parents generally want them to stick to print, and teens don’t seem that bothered either. The big change in publishing is social media and the impact of Facebook, twitter and instagram. Kids are constantly using these platforms and publishers have to think about how to market to children there, as well as how to lure readers off their devices. It’s both an opportunity and a challenge.

5) What advice do you have for anyone who aspires to work in children’s publishing?

First, network. Introduce yourself to local event or festival organisers and ask if you can volunteer. If you can, get yourself to a city and attend some of the big events like YALC in London or DeptCon in Dublin, where you can get to know book people.

Secondly, engage with children’s book chats on social media. If you talk about books you love on twitter you will soon find hundreds of people who want to do the same. It’s a great way to meet like-minded book fans and hear about opportunities in the publishing world.

Thirdly, if you can get a Saturday job at a local bookshop, do. You may decide to start a career in bookselling or it will give you a launchpad to work in other areas of the business.

UK acquisition for leading Spanish children’s book platform

Boolino, the leading online platform for children’s books in Spain, has just acquired the award-winning interactive e-book resource for schools in the UK, Fiction Express.

Almost 500 Primary schools in the UK are already using Fiction Express. It was founded in 2012 by book publisher Paul Humphrey, and the aim has always been to offer schools and teachers a unique interactive literacy resource that allows students to take part in the story-writing process.

Fiction Express won the 2014 Education Resources Award for Innovation and was a finalist of the Bett Awards 2013 as well as the Education Investor Awards 2014.

Boolino, the unique international online children’s books and reading ‘ecosystem’ was founded in 2011 in Barcelona, Spain by Sven Huber, former executive of Bertelsmann, co-owner of the world’s largest book publisher Penguin Random House. “Initially, our goal was to help parents to discover online the best and most beautiful books for their children, based on their needs, interests and ages. Over time, Boolino has developed into the largest online information and resource system for children’s and young adult books, offering value-added products and services to parents, bloggers, libraries and schools. As a result, our platform has become the preferred online marketing channel for children’s book publishers and, today, we are partnered with more than 90% of the Spanish publishing industry”, explains Sven, CEO of Boolino.

In order to further grow Fiction Express, both locally in the UK and internationally, Paul Humphrey and Boolino agreed to integrate the unique literacy resource into Boolino, making it available to a much broader market.

Origins of the interactive book

Digital formats provide a wealth of opportunity to experiment with, and push the boundaries of, the traditional book. With much focus on what this can do to engage children in reading, here Jana Sukenikova takes a look at the origins of the interactive children’s book and why she used monsters as the topic of her most recent design project.

Monsters became very popular in this century, from Vampires to Werewolves to Dragons, Skeletons and many, many different kinds. When I was conducting research for my recent project, I was disappointed by the selection of books on the topic of monsters in the town library. Badly chosen fonts were fighting with weak and inappropriate illustrations, with everything looking ‘glued’ together rather than being well-designed. I passionately wanted to change this situation – by making a special monster book!

Book of Spooks and Jelly Monster
Book of Spooks and Jelly Monster

How monsters were born

This project was born from a coincidence when I was babysitting my little cousin. While we were draw­ing together I asked her “How do you imagine Monsters?“ I realised that her imagination of monsters is completely different to mine when I was her age. So I decided to put together a book, which will show adults and all children a completely new approach to a world of spooks.

I asked children in the local nursery school for help and the results were awesome! They produced around 100 illustrations to get started with and a third of these were bedsheet ghosts.

Skeleton by Simeon Vartik, and my illustration
Skeleton by Simeon Vartik, and my illustration

Make a toy from your book

Backgrounds, monsters and stories become a living, breathing thing by adding interactive elements. Interactive elements are the inspiration be­hind many of the books I found while researching. My Book is filled with pop-up monsters, stickers, monsters based on dress-up dolls, foils, mechanical parts, embossed illustrations, monsters base on coloring books etc.

POP-UP elements

Two dimensional objects are changed to 3D objects by folding paper mechanisms. These plastic models were used for the first time in the mid-19th century, when London publishing companies Dean & Son and Darton & Co added 3D parts into well known 2D scenes. Success came almost immediately. Pioneer of the best Pop Up books was the German illustrator and writer Lothar Meggendörfer (1847–1925) Some of his most famous books include Dolls House and Grand Cirque International.

Lothar Meggendörfer: Doll ?s House

Pop-Up HydraDragon from Books of Spooks
Pop-Up HydraDragon from Books of Spooks

Pieces of cardboard with interchangeable fashion costumes were popular in the rich classes for both men and women in Europe and America in the late 18th century.

The first manufactured paper doll was Little Fanny, produced by S & J Fuller in London 1810. Before Barbie doll was introduced to the world, paper dolls had a significant role in the lives of children.

Tom Tierney’s Paper Dolls

Depressive Monster from Book of Spooks

Moving Parts

In mid-1700 in France “Pantins” dolls were developed to rise against french upper class and royal courts. „Jumping Jacks“ figures were something between a marionette and Paper Doll and they were made to taunt society. Jack developed into a paper element in the books for children, where the base is an illustration and the body parts and head are movable with the help of rivets.

Vintage Jumping Jack
Vintage Jumping Jack

Hugging Monster from Book of Spooks
Hugging Monster from Book of Spooks

There are many ways to make a book more attractive and engaging for children or adults (both in print and digital). Just go to the library and have a look, you will find plenty of inspiration for your next print or digital project.


fanah shapeless janaJana Sukenikova aka Fanah Shapeless is a multi-disciplined graphic designer specialising in Book Design, Layout, Brand identity, Print and Digital Design, Boardgames, Illustrations. Check out more of her work here.


Free Nielsen key findings report: The UK Children’s & YA Book Consumer

Since 2012, Nielsen Book UK has undertaken a Children’s Deep-Dive Study each summer to investigate children’s book reading and buying habits in the context of other leisure and entertainment pursuits.

For the first time in 2015, in addition to the nationally representative sample of 1,500 parents of 0-13 year olds and 500 young adults aged 14-17, the survey included 1,000 book buyers aged 18-25 to help investigate the phenomenon of adults buying ‘YA’ books for themselves. The research was undertaken in July 2015.

The 2015 research measured a drop in book reading on a weekly basis both among those aged 3-7 and 14-17 – though since 2012, the biggest decrease overall has been among 3-10 year olds. Books, however, still rank as the most popular activity for 0-10 year olds – but are in fifth position for 11-13s and drop out of the top 8 activities for those aged 14+.

For the first time Nielsen segmented the 0-25 book market into groups. ‘Superfans’ – the very heaviest readers – tend to be female, with an average age of 12. ‘Distractable’ and the ‘Anti’ groups are more likely to be males, with the ‘Anti’ group being older (14 on average) and the ‘Distractables’ younger (11 on average), whilst the ‘Potential’ group is as likely to be boys as girls.

This latter group are the ones reading e-books and magazines, and they too like adaptations; with the right content, format and messaging, this is a market that publishers can grow.

Download a free extract of the report here. Or you can purchase the full report via Nielsen here.

2017 in review

All the facts and stats from the UK Children’s Summit

For the first time this year, Nielsen Book held a UK Children’s Summit at London Book Fair, covering the incredible growth we’ve seen in Children’s sales worldwide over the past two years, and will hopefully continue to see. As someone who spends a lot of time thinking and talking about book sales data, I couldn’t pick a better subject to present on right now than the children’s market.

Since my first foray to the LBF in 2013, the children’s market has taken a turn for the better – after steadily declining from 2009 to 2013, revenue grew 9.5% in 2014, even as adult fiction and non-fiction continued to decline. Sales in 2015 improved even further, up 5.3% to £309m, marking last year as the highest year for Children’s since BookScan records began. And it wasn’t just one category, or one author, or one publisher. The three largest categories (Children’s Fiction, Picture Books and Novelty & Activity Books) all saw growth, as did the majority of top publishers. Even more impressive, 2016 sales to the end of March are already up 7.4% compared to the first three months of 2015, pointing toward 2016 being another excellent year.

The strength of Children’s Fiction in particular continues to amaze me – value sales grew 11.3% in 2015, and so far in 2016 the category has gone up another 10% in quarter one, topping £20m. Last year, 14 of the top 20 authors were in growth, with the top 20 taking about half of fiction sales. It’s a combination of new and old driving this – David Walliams’ latest Grandpa’s Great Escape was the highest selling children’s title for the last five years, but then we also see J.K. Rowling moving back up the ranks. The new illustrated Harry Potter contributed to her moving from the eighth largest children’s fiction author in 2014 to the third in 2015, and in the first few months of 2016, she’s moved into first.

Contrary to the other large categories, Young Adult Fiction saw a bit of a decline in 2015 (down 5.3%), but there were still some positives – half of the top twenty authors showed increased sales, including Zoe Sugg in first and Terry Pratchett in second. Actually, the top ten YA titles made more money in 2015 than in 2014 (£7.9m vs £7.0m), with 25% of revenue coming from those top ten, led by Girl Online 2: On Tour. We also saw value growth beyond the top 100 titles, and more debut authors earning over £100k than in the previous year, pointing to plenty of future potential in the YA sector.

It’s not just the UK that’s seeing extensive growth in Children’s – of the ten countries we measure through BookScan, only Australia was in decline in 2015, after a really strong 2014. Interestingly, when you look at the breakdown of the market in each country, Australia has the largest share taken by Children’s, at 44% of volume sales, closely followed by New Zealand at 42%. In the UK, Children’s takes about 34% of volume sales and 24% of value, which has grown from only 15% back in 2001, and only 21% as recently as 2012, all pointing to the continuing strength of print in the Children’s market.

Jaclyn Swope is a Publisher Account Manager on the Book Research team at Nielsen BookScan, where she assists a variety of publishers with understanding and utilising both retail sales and consumer data, through training sessions, presentations and bespoke analysis of book industry trends.

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