Notes from Nielsen Children’s Book Summit

“Kids Are Thriving, Reading and Hungry for More: Crunching Numbers at the Nielsen Children’s Book Summit:, says the Publisher Weekly headline. “Forget Your Preconceptions About Teenagers and Reading”, says the Publishing Perspectives headline. Sounds like good news!

The studies, conducted over a four-year period, sought to collect data that would provide insights into the ways in which children and teens consume media, specifically books, in an era of rapid technological advancements. 

Among the key take-away points from the day were: children’s book sales have risen steadily across all categories, though performing strongest is middle-grade and YA fiction; children and teens have an overwhelming preference for print over digital books; tablet use has risen exponentially, even among young children; and, as raised by a panel of teen readers and other presenters, the categorization of books as YA can be problematic for book industry professionals who find the classification inadequate and for teens who are resistant to labeling. 

According to Nielsen, “67% of kids read for fun fairly often,” and that there is a significant preference for print over digital books, with 71% of kids purchasing in print. These misconceptions about the way youth consume media, Junco said, come about through the lack of “good information,” and what he called the “adult normative perspective.” He believes that views of technology tend to often align with “panic narratives,” or the belief that new forms of technology will morally corrupt and “progress narratives,” which suggest that “technology will save us from everything.” Neither is an accurate view. One thing is for sure, he said in conclusion: “Our kids are not only okay, but they are thriving.”

Read the entire article for notes from each of the panels presented at the summit.
The paragraph from on ‘hearing directly from the readers’ caught our attention in the Publishing Perspectives article.

On the “In Their Own Words: Live Teen Focus Panel,” the teens, who weren’t in the room when the data was being discussed, illustrated many of the points already discussed in the research—they preferred print, they had to read a lot for school, they influenced their peers. What the teen panel also shared were the number of ways to reach these teen readers for book discovery—Instagram (book covers), YouTube (book trailers), Facebook (ads), and Tumblr (photos of book covers and highlighted passages). And, much like adults, teens are inclined to read books they get for free.


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