Children's Literature: Issues, Trends & Appreciation

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Correne Constantino

Correne has been teaching for 15 years! She has experience in elementary, middle school, as well as, college level instruction. She has a Bachelor's Degree in elementary education and a Master's Degree in early literacy.

This lesson focuses on making literature recommendations for children and adolescents. We'll discuss strategies to help young people appreciate literature and talk about how issues and trends can enhance opportunities to share and recommend literature to students. Updated: 07/06/2021

Children's Literature: Trends

Trends have the power to create lifelong readers. As educators, it's important to know the current children's literature trends and be reading the relevant books in order to recommend them to youth.

Series books, with multiple books following the same characters in the same world, are a trend that has been very popular for the past few years. Introducing kids to book one and helping them to build a relationship with the characters is a great foundation. Then you can encourage them to continue reading the rest of the series. This helps to establish children as lifelong readers.

Kindness (fighting against bullying) is another current trend that's excellent for helping young readers build character traits. These books focus on being kind to others and describe what true friendship is. Marie Unanue's The Adventures of Phatty and Payaso is about a band of diverse animals banding together to save a friend from a bully hawk. Latinx and autism spectrum characters also help to show differences and teach kids to be inclusive.

Recreating of classics is another trend in literature and movies today. The world of children's literature is seeing a lot of older classics being recreated for today's readers. Take the Nancy Drew series, for example, which is being rewritten and also created into graphic novels.

Graphic novels are both trendy and an excellent teaching tool. Graphic novels are full novels containing all of the usual components, including setting, problem, and solution, but they are written in comic book form. This allows children more success with completing a novel while challenging readers with making inferences and comprehension challenges.

Children's Literature: Issues

One issue that young children face is transitioning from the early and emergent stages of reading into chapter book reading. Children from first grade to third are the core age group for transitional literature. Children who are fluently reading early reader books are used to big words, few words on pages, pictures, etc. However, when they pick up a novel, there are often no pictures, long chapters, small print. This can be extremely overwhelming. A transitional book is a book designed to help ease young readers into chapter books. They have shorter chapters, larger words, some pictures, and topics that connect with the age group they are written for.

Some examples are:

  • Elephant & Piggie by Mo Willems
  • The Geronimo Stilton series by Geronimo Stilton
  • The Magic Treehouse series by Mary Pope Osborne
  • Stink by Megan McDonald

Young Adult Literature: Trends

Series novels in young adult literature are a huge trend as well. Similar to children's books, they get a reader hooked and wanting more. The series book helps young readers to keep reading.

Fantasy novels have kept up in popularity since the Harry Potter series in the 1990s. This genre is widespread and has topics for many young readers. Most popular today are dystopian novels and time travel novels. Realistic fiction is another popular genre today, especially those focusing on sensitive issues (cancer, suicide, death, etc.).

Young Adult Literature: Issues

The trends of young adult literature bring on some sensitive issues that teachers and parents must contend with. Books like 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher that explore suicide can make for very sensitive discussion. Many young people look for books that show them that they are not alone and literature that addresses sensitive topics can be recommended to students who are mature enough to handle them. A book dealing with suicide may be a tool for healing in the life of a young person contemplating suicide or dealing with a friend or family member lost to suicide.

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