Monday, January 6, 2014

Top 10 observations on our top 25 kids' books of 2013

For those who prefer their lists in words, Booksmith's top 25 kids' and young adult bestsellers for 2013 were:

1. The Lighting Thief
2. The Hunger Games
3. The Fault in Our Stars
4. Charlie & the Chocolate Factory
5. Divergent
6. Make Way for Ducklings
7. The Book Thief
8. Wonder
9. Diary of a Wimpy Kid 9: Hard Luck
10. Good Night Boston
11. The House of Hades
12. Hello Boston
13. The One & Only Ivan
14. Looking for Alaska
15. The Very Hungry Caterpillar (board book)
16. The Day the Crayons Quit
17. Zolocolor
18. Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Sight
19. Mockingjay
20. Good Night Gorilla (board book)
21. Ivy & Bean (book one)
22. A Big Guy Took My Ball
23. Anna Hibiscus (book one)
24. Let’s Go for a Drive
25. Goodnight Moon (board book)

A few observations:

Bostonians have a lot of hometown pride, and visitors to Boston are pretty proud, too. (Good Night Boston doesn't beat Goodnight Moon just anywhere.)

Local schools have a lot of sway around here. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory attained its high position largely because of a school order, and a lot of the (best) titles on the list were helped along by the Brookline Schools' summer reading program. I'm looking at you, Anna Hibiscus, Wonder, and The One and Only Ivan.

Speaking of Anna Hibiscus, handselling is powerful. Many of us love this charming, funny chapter book about a girl in "Africa, amazing Africa," and we recommend it to fans of Clementine and Ivy + Bean. It's nice to know that a book can be a bestseller here even if it's not necessarily a bestseller nationally.

Our bestsellers aren't dominated by any age group or genre. There are stories here of bullying, of demigods, of fights to the death on fictional reality TV, of ducks who find homes and of crayons who quit.

Our customers know that a book doesn't have to be shiny-new to be worth reading. They also know that if Jeff Kinney or Rick Riordan writes a new book, it's time to run, not walk, to the bookstore.

Movies are good for books, at least from a sales perspective. (I'll leave the debate on the artistic value of movie adaptations to you.) Popular new books are good for an author's old books. (Looking for Alaska has sold better, both here and nationally, since the success of The Fault in Our Stars and of John Green's online platform than it did when it came our or when it won the Printz.)

Elephant and Piggie will eventually take over the world.

Adults have discovered YA in a big way. Heck, they've even discovered intermediate fiction. At least a few of the Wonder purchases were for adult book clubs, and I hear it's been a citywide read in some places.

Still, our number-one seller, kids' or YA, was the first book in an intermediate series that's wildly popular with kids and has a fairly small adult readership. Amazing as it is to see adults discover our section, it's also nice to see that the kids' section is still about kids.

You have good taste, Brookline.

Happy 2014.

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