Monday, September 19, 2016

Kiwi children reading more and votes for the nation’s favourite kids’ books up 50 percent

The results are in and Whitcoulls can today reveal that Kiwi kids (and their parents) are as engaged as ever when it comes to reading and voting for their favourite books.

Whitcoulls have been asking readers to vote for their Kids’ Top 50 books for the past 17 years and this year, are delighted to announce that voting is up by 50 percent from 2015. Head Book Buyer at Whitcoulls, Joan Mackenzie, attributes this to the ease and accessibility of voting on-line and via social media channels.

Mackenzie is particularly excited about what she describes as “the sustained increase in children’s reading habits,” which Whitcoulls measures by compiling sales data. This reveals that there has been a very significant upswing in sales of books across their 56 nationwide stores.

Mackenzie said, “this upswing is reflected in book markets around the world, who are reporting strong increases in kids’ book sales. Our own experience is that kids are reading more than ever before, and rather than reading digitally – which is what you might expect from the younger generations – they want real books.”

There are ten newcomers to the 2016 list of Kids’ Top 50 Books, including the Tom Gates and Skulduggery Pleasant series of books. Classic books always make their presence felt and this year The Magic Faraway Tree, Famous Five and CHERUB titles reappear.

Nine of the books on this year’s list are by New Zealand authors, not least: Hairy Maclary and Friends by national treasure Lynley Dodd (number 3); two picture books by Mark and Rowan Sommerset (number 16 and 29); Craig Smith’s ever-popular, The Wonky Donkey (number 19); and Peter Millett’s up and coming Johnny Danger Series of books (number 46).

J.K. Rowling’s hugely popular Harry Potter Series is again ‘top of the pops’ with readers and claims the number one spot.  The continuing interest in Rowling’s mega-bestselling series having been fuelled by the recent release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which has driven a 40 percent increase in sales of her backlist titles.

Roald Dahl’s The BFG comes in at number two; Andy Griffiths & Terry Denton grab the number 4 spot with The Treehouse Series; and, always a favourite, Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series comes in at number five.

Significantly, junior fiction titles comprise seven of the top ten spots in this year’s list of Kids’ Top 50 books. In previous years, picture books have been more popular with Kiwi readers. This suggests that readers are slightly older than in previous years and with that comes a preference for longer form fiction and non-fiction.

“It is also true that most adults have treasured books they remember from their own childhoods and when given the chance will still vote for them as well – so the votes are coming from a mix of channels and age groups. We love that, as parents will pass on their own enthusiasms to their children and then an entire new generation will find a book which is as good today as it was when first published, many years ago. This is how classics are made,” said Mackenzie.

Whitcoulls is a sponsor of the Kids’ Lit Quiz, which recently hosted the international World Final in Auckland. The breadth and depth of knowledge by Kiwi kids about books and authors was truly inspirational. Mackenzie said, “We’d like to think that many of them started out with a selection of books from our own Top 50.”


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