Excellent news for the children's book industry was revealed at a Nielsen Summit held in September in New York. Jonathan Nowell, president of Nielsen Book, shared the following encouraging statistics.
  • Children's book sales are up 12.6% in the US for the period between January 2014 and September 2015.
  • 11 of the 20 best-selling books in the US are children's titles.
  • Print sales in the juvenile market have grown 40% in the last decade, with 5% of that market share growth in the last three years.
  • Books aimed at 5-8 year olds account for 38% of all children's book sales.
  • 80% of all YA books being bought are purchased by adults.
  • The growth of multicultural consumers provides statistical basis for increasing the number of multicultural titles. Today's children under the age of nine are split 50/50 between multicultural and white.
These numbers provide excellent motivation for SCBWI members: it's a good time to be in the children's book field.

Hot Topic
Children's Books, Brain Development, and Imagination: The Scientific Correlation 

By Lin Oliver, Executive Director SCBWI
In 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy saying that literacy promotion, beginning at birth, should be part of all pediatric primary care. That makes sense. Mountains of scientific evidence show that regular reading aloud with children leads to improved language development and long-term school success.

Yet despite this evidence, only some American families include reading as part of their daily routine. Sixty percent of children from families with incomes above $90,000 are read to daily from birth to age five. In contrast, that number is less than thirty-three percent for families living at or below the poverty line of $24,000.

In August of this year, the journal Pediatrics published a study that used MRI's to study brain activity in young children as they listened to stories.  There were two significant findings.

SCBWI Exclusive with . . .
Jenny Bent, The Bent Agency
In 2009 Jenny Bent founded The Bent Agency after twenty years in the publishing industry, most recently as vice president at Trident Media Group.
Since then, TBA has grown to include eight other agents. As a group, they pride themselves on close working relationships with their clients focusing their attention on every detail, from the terms of a first contract, editorial work and cover design, to the publisher's marketing and publicity plan, and finally royalties and sales figures.
Was there something you gravitated to in high school or as a college student that made the children's book world and the agenting aspect of it the perfect fit for you?
Well, I represent both adult and children's books and I think that reflects my tastes as an entirely democratic reader. Starting as a child, I read anything and everything I could get my hands on, starting with the cereal box every morning. I was (and still am) an obsessive reader. So, publishing was always the perfect fit, and in fact, in many ways the only option for me. I'm not sure what else I would be doing otherwise!  Agenting is good for me because I'm bossy and dislike being told what to do, so working in a publishing house never seemed like a wise choice for me. :)

On the Shelves    
The Red Balloon Bookshop   
On the Shelves profiles an independent bookstore or library on what books readers "can't put down," what booksellers want, and how authors and illustrators can get involved in the community.
 Joan Trygg of The Red Balloon Bookshop in St. Paul, Minnesota, tells us what's on the shelves.  
What trends do you notice in children's book sales? What are the current hot reads?
Our trends are probably store-specific---we do a lot of handselling. Currently, we're selling many princess books, where the princess is a strong non-traditional girl. (It's not always girl readers who are requesting these.) We also get requests for spy/secret agent books, again by readers of both genders.

A non-store specific trend has been the demand for more diverse books, with people looking for books with characters of diverse races; families with two mothers or two fathers; bi-racial families, gay, lesbian or transgender characters; and characters from a range of religious traditions. Authors and others in the book world are making their voices heard on the need for diversity through the #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement, as well, which makes me hopeful for change in the future.

Illustrator Info 
4 Questions for . . . 
Heather Alexander, Pippin Properties 

The Illustrator Info column is intended to give concrete help to working illustrators. You'll find informative, brief interviews full of practical information and advice.

Heather Alexander joined Pippin Properties as an agent after six years in editorial at Penguin. She loves books about those moments that change a person forever, and she is always looking for thoughtfully drawn characters. She tends to prefer literary projects over commercial, and wants to make books that will live on forever. Some of her favorite projects have been Firefly Hollow by Alison McGhee and The Thing About Yetis by author/illustrator Vin Vogel, whom she met through SCBWI.

Do you represent both artists and authors?  How is the process different?

Yes, I represent both authors and artists. It's wonderful to be able to share in all aspects of children's book publishing that way. The process of working to sell an illustrator's work can be quite different. For instance, we keep portfolios of all our illustrators' work in the office, and have editors and art directors in to browse them. The publisher may have projects in mind that they need an artist for, or they may take samples to remind them of the work they liked so they can approach that artist for something down the road. With illustrators, the work almost always comes from outside. But with authors and author/illustrators, we work on manuscripts and dummies and send them out to editors the traditional way.

Best Advice Ever
Nikki Grimes

New York Times bestselling author Nikki Grimes is the recipient of the 2006 NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children. Her distinguished works include ALA Notable book What is Goodbye?, Coretta Scott King Award winner Bronx Masquerade, and Coretta Scott King Author Honor books Jazmin's Notebook, Talkin' About Bessie, Dark Sons, The Road to Paris, and Words with Wings. Creator of the popular Meet Danitra Brown, Ms. Grimes lives in Corona, California.

The best piece of creative advice I ever received was from my father, a violinist and composer.  When I was young, I bounced from writing, to dance, to theater, to music, and back to writing, again.  At one point, I worried that perhaps I should just focus on one discipline.  However, my father told me not to worry about it.  He encouraged me to explore whatever art forms interested me, certain that, once I settled on my medium of choice, I would be able to use all that I'd learned from the other disciplines, and he was right!  My exploration of music and dance played into the lyricism of my poetry, and my work in the theater strengthened my skills in writing dialogue.  So, at the end of the day, I have to say, Thanks, Daddy!

Draw This!  
Draw This! is our monthly prompt word for illustrators.
September's word is . . . ENCHANTED 
To view all the ENCHANTED submissions, 
see our online gallery.

October's Featured Images:

Vanessa Flores 

Morgan Hutcherson


And the prompt for the November SCBWI INSIGHT is...
Click here for submission guidelines.
Info Links 

A collection of blogs, news articles, and other must see links
click here flat icon
for authors and illustrators.
Common Writing Errors When You Write Fiction  Link
Five Daily Practices to Help You Achieve Success Link 

Want to Write a Fantastic Book Proposal?  Link

What to Avoid When Writing Your First Novel Link

Write This!    
Write This! is our monthly writing prompt. We will choose the best 20 entries submitted to us by the 15th of each month.  These winning entries will be published in the INSIGHT gallery for all to see.  So write well and be noticed!   

The October prompt was to portray an inopportune time to get a case of hiccups in fifty words or less.

Here are two outstanding entries that we've chosen.
The ambassador concluded, "I take your promise to the king.  You will cease to devour peasants or ravage towns. Our knights will no longer challenge you. We shall have peace."
Borzogoff hiccuped. Flames burst from his snout as the ambassador disappeared into smoke and ash. The dragon sighed. War after all.

Alan Irvine
I swallowed hard, gulping down a frog-size bubble. This was my first oral report and all eyes were on me. I opened my mouth as the froglet became a hiccup and leaped into the air, tangled with wet syllables. The room burst into laughter. I wanted to croak.

---Catie Lane 
To view the top twenty October submissions see our  online gallery.

THE NEW PROMPT: "A stranger enters..."
Please not that submissions need not use the exact words "a stranger enters," only must follow the spirit of the prompt. 

The prompt for November is due October 15