Thursday, December 5, 2013

What About Early Readers?

Librarian extraordinaire Travis Jonker always has insightful posts at SLJ's 100 Scope Notes. I especially like his post today where he talks about the constant demand he gets from grade school students asking for more early reader books like Tedd Arnold's Fly Guy. Travis talks about how insanely popular Fly Guy is among his young patrons and wonders why there aren't more new books like it.

I often have that same question. The truth is that early readers are a hard sell to most children's book publishers. Not many pursue them. Of the handful of publishers that do, most don't seem to have the desire to expand their line beyond what they call their "current properties". Translation: movie tie-ins or proven best sellers. You can't expect many new early reader lines from publishers with that kind of strategy.

But a few publishers get it. In fact, I recently had a publisher ask me to submit a series proposal on an early reader I submitted to them. It went a couple of rounds through their acquisition committee, with some editors very excited about it, but ultimately they decided to pass on it. However, they invited me to submit some other early reader book manuscripts and proposals. We'll see what happens. But I applaud publishers like that who aggressively seek to publish early readers, not only their current line of books, but new and exciting fresh ones too.

As Travis Jonker states in his post, "The world needs more early readers with very basic vocab and an attention-grabbing main character. I know it ain’t an easy order, but there are some eager young readers out there."

I agree with Travis and I hope there end up being a few more publishers that do too.