Monday, December 8, 2014

What Kids Want to Read

Scholastic – aside from telling us that the favorite books of the kids interviewed for the Kids & Family Reading Report are all conveniently published by Scholastic – has some interesting things to say about what kids want in the books they read.

First, the study’s nuts and bolts:

Researchers (and/or marketers) reviewed web-based survey results from 1,026 parents of children ages 6-17, plus one child between those ages from the same household. So sum total, about 2,052 people were included in the survey.

Now, the summarized results:

Seventy percent of the kids interviewed say they want books that make them laugh.

Fifty-four percent want books that “let me use my imagination.” That’s vague enough to be unhelpful there. How do they want to use their imagination in relation to the story being told?

Forty-eight percent want a story that is made up. That one, at least, is simple to answer. But what do the other 52 percent want? Historical fiction?

Forty-three percent say they want books that have characters they wish they could be like because they’re strong, smart, or brave – and the same percentage want books that teach them something new.
So I have to wonder: Should authors rush out and analyze their current works in progress to see where they fit in this wish list, and consider what adjustments should be made to appeal to their target audience?

Maybe. To a certain point. That point being look at where your writing is leading you naturally, and then emphasize your strengths. No one should use the results of this survey – or any survey – to crank out formulaic writing in order to sell books.

Looked at from a more cynical point of view, this might be a wish list for What Scholastic Wants, seeing as they’re finding plenty of what kids want already in their stable. Want to publish with us? Say yes to what our insect overlords have said they want in books.

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