Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Children's Book Trends for 2011

This will be my last post (I promise!) about wrapping up 2010 and book trends and what’s going to be hot in 2011.  But a post by authors Ally Carter and Jennifer Lynn Barnes was so interesting, I just had to share.  Their notes are in the normal font, mine are in italics.


1. Dystopian
From The Maze Runner to Matched, in 2010 the search for the next Hunger Games kicked into high gear. With the Mockingjay release and a Hunger Games feature film on the way, dystopian is a trend that isn’t slowing down.

This is without a doubt true, with hard to get ARCs for Divergent proving that!

2. Angels
While established vampire series are still rocking the YA market, lesser-known or debut authors seem to be having more luck with angels. Growing series like Hush Hush and Fallen and successful debuts like Halo join with re-released older titles like The Fallen to make this a trend with major Times List staying power.

 I commented on this trend months ago when I read Personal Demons and even my non-industry friend commented on the abundance of angel YA.  And, just like I warned in my previous post, the first angel paranormal romance I’m so excited for everyone else to get a chance to read is Angelfire, published by Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins.

3. Spin-Off-Series
With the release of Clockwork Angel by Cassie Clare, Radiance by Alyson Noel, and The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan, 2010 was the time for new series set in already best-selling worlds. With many other authors announcing plans for spin-offs of their own, this is a trend on the rise.

4. Beyond-the-Grave Fiction
This sub-genre of realistic YA has been experiencing a slow build since the release of Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why. But with the paperback release of If I Stay, and Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall debut, 2010 has taken the “death” book to a whole new level.

5. Humorous Middle Grade
There’s no denying that funny is where it’s at in middle grade fiction. Established powerhouse series like Diary of a Wimpy Kid stayed strong, and newer entries like Big Nate and Dork Diaries continued to rise, proving that funny was a valuable commodity in middle-grade in 2010.

6. Dark YA
As much as middle-grade readers love to laugh, those same books have few YA counterparts seeing equivalent success. Whether it’s a dystopian future or words from beyond the grave, a dangerous romance or a gritty look at reality (a la Ellen Hopkins), the 2010 young adult market was dominated by the dark and serious.


1. E-books
People are talking about E-books, E-readers, and E-publishing--all adding up to a very big E-year for 2010.

And yet, while YA books are regularly being read on eReaders, it’s still often adults reading those books; now they don’t have to be ‘embarrassed’ to be enjoying a kid’s book on the subway home from work.  It will be interesting to see after this holiday season how many teens got eReaders and how that will affect the eBook in the coming months.

2. Adult Mega-Stars Crossing Into YA
Young Adult fiction has been making waves for several years, so it’s no surprise that more adult superstars are hitting the YA market than ever before with authors like John Grisham, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Kathy Reichs and Candace Bushnell all making 2010 debuts.

3. Growth of Book Packagers
Alloy has been book packaging for years, but lately more and more packagers are popping up and making waves. Tinderbox and the controversial Full Fathom Five and are just two up and operating now with more gaining traction every day.

4. Repackaging old titles
Sometimes books come out before their time. In 2010, publishers didn’t let that stop them, and many repackaged titles from authors like LJ Smith, Christopher Pike, and Thomas Sniegoski to take advantage of current trends.

This is exactly what HarperCollins is doing with Shade’s Children, which also ties into trend prediction #2, below.  An interesting article also talks about updating Lois Duncan’s books for a modern market.

5. Cross-promotion
Author events looked different in 2010 with more multi-author tours hitting the road. Whether they were publisher-driven like Disney-Hyperion’s “Un-required Reading” tour or author-run like the “Smart Chicks Kick It” tour, cross-promotion was certainly on the rise--a trend that could also be seen in non-tour marketing efforts such as “The Penguin Five.”

Tours like this make me sooo excited.  It’s awesome when you can hear one of your favorite authors talk, but when a group of authors (some you may know, some you may not, some that may become your new favorites) come together, the audience really benefits from their interactions, plus a fuller conversation with multiple perspectives (be that about the industry, the writing process, or specific books), can be really enlightening.  The only downside? Great tours like “Smart Chicks Kick It” and HarperCollins’s “The Dark Days of Supernatural” didn’t/aren’t coming to NYC. 

6. YA on TV
Two of the biggest shows on television today got their start on Young Adult bookshelves. In 2010, YA-TV eclipsed Gossip Girl with Pretty Little Liars and Vampire Diaries taking center stage. If the orders for upcoming pilots are any indication, we will soon see more YA novels on the small screen than ever before.


1. Contemporary Romance
From dark and edgy to lighter contemporary fare, we’re predicting that paranormal romance readers might become simply “romance readers”. The success of Simone Elkeles’ gritty YA romances and staying power of YA powerhouses like Sarah Dessen bode well for this genre in 2011.

2. Soft Sci Fi
Hunger Games isn’t just dystopian--it’s also science fiction. Coupled with Beth Revis’s upcoming Across the Universe, we’re predicting that these books may open the window for more YA sci fi: from space operas to tech.

See my note above about Shade’s Children, which has a ton of dystopian and fantasy elements that will help it appeal to those other than traditional sci-fi readers.

3. Gothic
Following in the wake of Beautiful Creatures, as well the general popularity of both paranormal and darker fare, we’re expecting a surge in books with a Gothic feel.

This is the trend I’m most excited about, and I hope it will come to be.  My favorite books- from Jane Eyre to Rebecca to Rebel Angels- are distinctly Gothic and I love it.

4. Thriller-Action-Adventure:
Beyond their paranormal and dystopian elements, many of 2010’s mega hits are, at their core, action-adventure-thrillers. It stands to reason that many of those readers might eventually reach out for action-based stories set in a more contemporary world.

5. Mixed Genre Paranormal
Paranormal is far too popular to go away in its entirety any time soon, so we expect this genre to hold strong in 2011...if it brings something new to the mix. Be on the look out for books which blend other genres with paranormal mainstays, in the vein of White Cat (crime fiction), Paranormalcy (government agency), or Maureen Johnson’s upcoming paranormal mysteries.

6. Commercial Historical Fiction
Lately, readers interested in complex and interesting worlds have been finding them in the paranormal, but they can also find them in the past. High concept historical fiction might be poised to make a move if, like paranormal, it has a mix of commercial elements. From crime-fighting flappers to Austenian assassins, historical might be a very interesting place to be in 2011 and beyond.

From what I’ve been hearing in the industry grapevine, this might be more wish than realistic prediction.  And a wish that I absolutely share.  I’d guess that 80% of the books I read pre-high school and 50% of the books I read in high school were historical fiction (the rest being made up mostly by fantasy, some contemporary).  I remember Little Women, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, Lyddie, and The Witch of Blackbird Pond sooo fondly, yet kids today aren’t interested in straight historical fiction.  Some novels can get away with a bit of history, like When You Reach Me or Revolution, yet the fantastical elements help it sell in today’s market. But The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate (which takes place in Texas, 1899) and Bright Young Things (NYC, 1929), for example, give me hope…please let 2011 bring historical fiction back!

I hope you found this as interesting as I did.  Which trends are you excited for books to follow this year?   And 360 days from now, we’ll see how these predictions fared! 


  1. Hi Laurel,
    Thanks for sharing this. I'm a youth services librarian and am always trying to keep up with the trends.