I love watching trends in children’s books and young adult books. There’s something fascinating about the ebb and flow of what people are craving.
I wrote a blog post about children’s book trends and young adult book trends last year. Based on the popularity of that post, I realized this is a topic that authors and book bloggers are interested in. You can read my post from 2017 here:
Whether you’re interested in discovering trending topics in children’s books or you’re looking for a popular YA genre to write for in 2018, this post will help you.
*Printable Book List*
At the bottom of this post, you’ll find a printable list of all the books mentioned in this post. Use it to research trends in your chosen age group and make a writing, reading, or blogging plan for 2018.
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Here are the trends in children’s books and young adult books to keep your eye on in 2018.
Overall Trends in Children’s Books and Young Adult Books
Some trends stretch across all age groups, and these are particularly important to pay attention to.
Diversity is a trend that we keep seeing more of. Whether characters are people of color, LGBTQ, females filling traditionally male roles, or have some sort of handicap or disability, diversity is a huge trend.
With the popularity of the movie Wonder (the book was amazing, too), you can count on seeing more books about kids from the fringes of society.
Strong Female Characters
We are seeing more and more books featuring strong female characters. Girls with a strong moral compass and aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty. They don’t sit around, waiting to be rescued. They buckle down, use their brains, and get to work.
While we’re on the topic of strong female characters, I need to mention feminism (which is not the same thing). Feminism is a trend I see happening in every age group, from picture books all the way up to young adult books.
Whether it’s Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo or a work of YA nonfiction like Votes for Women by Winifred Conkling, feminism is a trend you simply can’t ignore. It’s a timely topic that’s important to the rising generation and their parents.
This is one of the most interesting trends in children’s books and young adult books that I’ve noticed.
Nonfiction is changing from the dry, encyclopedia-like books we grew up with to something vibrant and interesting. Topics can cover anything from the night sky to women in science to politics. But the thing they have in common is a unique point of view, an engaging voice, and bright illustrations or photographs.
Bestselling nonfiction books for children and teens are mostly about marginalized and previously unnoticed people from history. Women in Science by Rachel Ignotofsky is a good example, as is Little Leaders: Bold Leaders in Black History by Vashti Harrison.
Trends in Children’s Books for 2018
Always a winner with young children, humor is going to continue to be a big trend in children’s books. Kids love to laugh and parents like reading funny stories to their kids. This is a genre that will always be in demand.
For a current example, read Everything is Mama by Jimmy Fallon.
Love, Hopes, and Dreams
Books that speak to the love, hopes, and dreams parents have for their children are performing well. For great examples of what I’m talking about, check out Here We Are by Oliver Jeffers, The Wonderful Things You Will Be by Emily Winfield Martin, and That’s Me Loving You by Amy Krouse Rosenthal.
Biographies and True Stories
The picture book biography has exploded in popularity recently, along with stories based on real events. From biographies like Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code by Laurie Wallmark to stories of rescue animals like Polly and Her Duck Costume by Leanne Lauricella, books based on true events are increasingly popular. We’ll continue to see this trend in 2018.
Unique and Unusual Characters
From shy kids to people with strange phobias, unique and unusual characters are an important trend to watch in 2018. An increasing number of picture books feature characters that dream of adventure or are different from their peers.
Trends in Middle Grade Books for 2018
Fairy Tales and Fantasy
Fantasy, fairy tales, and magic have always been popular with this age group and it’s one of the most popular and long-standing trends in children’s books. Harry Potter and Percy Jackson remain bookshelf staples for kids in the 8-12 age range, so it’s no surprise that books like Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend and The Adventurers Guild by Zack Loran Clark and Nick Eliopulos are also popular.
Social Issues and Realistic Fiction
Thanks to the continued popularity of Wonder by R.J. Palacio, the middle grade book market has seen a rise in realistic fiction dealing with social issues. Topics like bullying, identity, poverty, and diversity are trending right now.
When we talk about trends in children’s books, we have to mention humor. Just like with younger children, big kids love to laugh. Humor has always been a winner with this age group and it always will be. Long series like Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey and Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney continue to be popular.
But just like in every other category, character diversity is important. We’re seeing more books like Jake the Fake Keeps it Real by Craig Robinson and Adam Mansbach, a funny middle-school romp that features an African American protagonist.
Trends in Young Adult Books for 2018
Social Issues and Realistic Fiction
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will have heard about The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas. This book exploded into the YA arena earlier in 2017 and it’s still on The New York Times bestseller list. It’s prompted other releases like Dear Martin by Nic Stone that deal with social issues and race relations.
In addition, we’re seeing a rise in the demand for LGBTQ books and realistic fiction that deals with heavy topics like teen depression and suicide.
While romance could be categorized under realistic fiction, I think it deserves its own mention. Romance is a reading staple and that’s never going to change. Teens and adults alike love reading YA romance novels and the demand for these types of books will never run out.
Young adult romance novels tend to be contemporary (why is that?) and feature imperfect characters with blended families. But just like with adult romances, a happy ending is a requirement.
Technology, The Dark Web, and Gaming
With the popularity of books like Warcross by Marie Lu and Renegades by Marissa Meyer, it’s hard to miss this trend in young adult fiction. And with all the DC Icons novels like Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu coming out, this trend will only continue to build.
Tech, video games, and the dark web are all wickedly interesting and make for captivating stories that tech junkies and teens can’t resist.
Thrillers and Horror
Thrillers are HUGE right now and they’re only growing in popularity. With the success of books like One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus, we can look forward to seeing similar titles in 2018. Keep an eye out for books like The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas, S.T.A.G.S. by M.A. Bennett and People Like Us by Dana Mele.
And let’s not forget about horror. For whatever reason, people like getting scared. Creepy, haunting mysteries like The Breathless by Tara Goedjen, ghost stories like Haunting the Deep by Adriana Mather, and upcoming books like Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman are just the start of a popular YA trend.
Printable Book List!
Click the graphic below to download a printable checklist of all the books mentioned in this post. Use it to research possible book genres to write for, find popular trends in children’s books and young adult books, or just to explore popular titles.