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How Do You Best Empower Young Readers with Choice?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

By Edward Nawotka, Editor-in-Chief

Do you publish children’s books? So, do you spend enough time with actual children? “One of thing things I recommend people do is talk to kids, talk to your readers…and you’ll find out what it is that is important to them,” said Kristin McLean of Bookigee, as part of the TOC Bologna conference on Sunday morning.

“My favorite thing to do is when I’m hanging out with kids as part of research for my books is I ask them to empty out their backpack,” said children’s book author Stuart Murphy. “When they do that, you can really see what is important to them.”

Why would you do this? Doesn’t it seem invasive?

“Seeing what’s important to a child, how they learn, will change how we interact with children,” said Dominique Raccah, publisher of Sourcebooks, in the same presentation.

The simple fact is that power-base of the children’s book economy is quickly shifting away from “gatekeepers” — parents and grandparents — to an “on demand” economy, in which children require more and more choice from those who make reading and interactive materials accessible to them.

Of course, as any parent knows, offering a child too many choices can result in stress for the child. So in this context it is important to remember that proper parental curation remains key.

So how much choice in books should you give a child? How do you empower them properly? Well, the first step is learning more about what it is they want and finding away to curate for those demands in a way that is also aligned with your ideas, expectations and desires for the child.

Agree, disagree. Let us know what you think in the comments.

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

Edward Nawotka is the Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. A former foreign correspondent, he has covered the book business exclusively since 2000, serving as daily news editor for Publishers Weekly and columnist for Bloomberg News.