Blogger: Etta Wilson
Location: Books & Such Nashville Office
Weather: Cold and wet
Wow, what good news to start a new year—adult fiction had positive sales last year. That’s according to Nielsen’s BookScan, which reports on 75% of the market. And it warms my heart to know that children’s book, both fiction and nonfiction, did fairly well also.
Last week I participated in judging entries in the National Humanities contest “Letters to Authors” for the grades 6 – 8 category (one of three). Each state selects its best letters to an author, living or dead, about a book, poem, or speech by the author which student has read. These are then sent for national judging. The letters are not book reports, but more about the impact of the selected piece on the student in his or her own words.
Reading those letters was absolutely astounding in several regards. First, I had forgotten how strongly young people at that age feel things, how reading a really good book can move them to new insights and actions.
Second, the reading levels were across the board–from Charlotte’s Web to Shakespeare’s Midsummer’s Night’s Dream. However, the majority of these kids, ages 12 – 14, were reading big books from writers usually considered adult authors such as Jane Austen, Stephanie Meyer, A. Conan Doyle, Francine Rivers, Michael Crichton, and John Boyne (The Boy in the Striped Pajamas). I don’t think teachers were directing them to read most of these. At least their comments didn’t indicate that. Of course, some are reading Kate DiCamillo, J.K. Rowling, Madelyn L’Engle, and authors we’d consider “age-appropriate.”
It’s no wonder that adult fiction is selling better than anything else. The market is broad. I perceived quickly that I need to go back and reread a lot of these authors.
If you entered such a contest, which author or book/poem/speech would you write about?