January is a great time to talk about children’s books, what with the aftermath of the MidWinter ALA and its accompanying Newbery, Caldecott, and other awards, presented earlier in the month. While publishing for the adult market has its rewards and sense of community, children’s publishing has an infectious enthusiasm and sense of mission that is made manifest at ALA.
For four of its last five years, the Launch Kids conference has taken place in January – once on the actual day of ALA’s “Book Media Awards,” as they are collectively called. As 2016 marks the fifth year of the Launch Kids conference (now held on March 7), we thought we would take the opportunity to look back — and forward — at changes in children’s books and media.
As many have noted, the digital world that we might have anticipated when we started these conferences in 2012 has not evolved much, at least for children’s books.
That’s not to say that children’s books haven’t been affected by the enormous changes of the last few years, from smartphone ubiquity to brand building through Instagram and Pinterest. Rather, the effect has come in different ways than expected. No, children don’t read that many ebooks, and no, online storytelling is not the only way teens read and write (though hats off to Wattpad for their continued success). Subscriptions to downloadable ebook sites like Magic Town and MeeGenius didn’t take off in quite the way their founders had hoped, and interactive education has come a long way, but as Amplify found out, not as far as futurists had predicted.