It's boom time for children's books

Children's literature is booming and Martin Chilton is all praises for the favourable circumstances.

It's a golden age of children's literature. The standard of writing and illustrating is as high and imaginative as it has ever been, vibrant and interesting festivals are bursting at the seams with record-breaking audiences and children's books sales are outperforming the rest of the market.

Children's Book Week, which starts today and finishes on 9th October, certainly has a lot to celebrate.

The Telegraph Bath Festival Of Children's Literature has just finished its fifth annual 10-day festival and tickets sales have never been higher. On Saturday, Jacqueline Wilson sold out the Forum with 1242 spectators - her record UK event.

And book sales figures have rarely looked healthier. Figures for the first half of 2011 from Nielsen BookScan, presented at a Bookseller Children’s Conference, showed that despite a biting recession the following positive outlook was there for children's books:

* sales overall worth £143million

* sales of Pre-school and Picture Books category up 6%

* children’s general non-fiction sales up by 6% to £14.6m

* school textbooks sales also up by 13%

Penguin Books’ deputy group sales director Dan Shepherd said: "When kids are fascinated by a brand, they go and spend any money they have on them."

October is full of events promoting children's reading and literacy. As well as Children's Book Week, Thursday October 6th is National Dragonese Day - a literacry-promoting campaign headed by Cressida Cowell, the author of How To Train Your Dragon. There is also the Children's Bookshow tour - with 13 different authors appearing in 13 different theatres

Former Children's Laureate Michael Rosen said: "Children's Book Week is a great opportunity for everyone who cares about children's books to fire up children to read and talk about books. Schools can make a special place in the curriculum to discover how books can give pleasure, enlightenment and pause for thought. Libraries can focus on how best to get children through their doors to enjoy the treasure houses nearby. Books need as much buzz around them as TV and film, so a week when the whole country is talking about books and authors is an ideal way for the world of books to be seen and heard."

And during the October half-term, there will be a new children's book festival in London, The Telegraph sponsored WordUp! Festival, which will feature appearances from, among others, Michael Morpurgo, Jacqueline Wilson, Philip Ardagh and Judith Kerr.

It's great news that a creative boom in children's writing - with barriers being stretched across everything from picture books for toddlers to fantasy and challenging and edgy YA fiction - is being read and appreciated by a growing audience. -The Telegraph


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