The Top Children’s Book Trends for This School Year

Find out what you’ll discover on bookshelves — and what will inspire your child to love reading.

Aug 12, 2019



childrens book trends

Aug 12, 2019

At Scholastic, our world revolves around incredible children’s books and the noteworthy trends that drive them. We spend every day poring over what it is that helps kids grow a passion for reading, and because of that, we know exactly what young readers love right now.

This school year, you can expect to see book trends revolving around some pretty incredible (and sometimes magical) animal characters, selections for the kids who are in awe of their older sibling’s video games but not old enough to play yet, and refreshingly approachable stories to spook but not scare readers for Halloween and beyond.

We sat down with Katie Carella, a former teacher and executive editor at Scholastic, to find out what you can expect to see this fall. Read on to discover the top six trends in children’s literature!

1. Unicorn Magic

These creatures aren’t just magical — they blend the worlds of reality and fantasy for little readers, and add a (literal) sparkle to every story. “Everybody loves a little bit of magic and glitter, and we’re all looking for that charming character to latch on to,” says Carella. “Young kids are still very much pretending and using imagination in their play, and unicorns open up all kinds of dazzling doors for them.”

You’ve probably already seen plenty of unicorns on apparel, backpacks, and toys, but this year will be their chance to shine in books. Often in stories, unicorns teach important lessons about sharing, teamwork, and other social-emotional learning themes, giving kids the chance to learn in the most delightful, charming way possible. In Unicorn and Yeti: A Good Team, a unicorn and a friend learn to play together, even though they’re good at totally different things. And in the whimsical You Are My Magical Unicorn, a unicorn learns important lessons about hope, persistence, and heart.

Check out a few great unicorn picks below, or view our full list of unicorn books.

Books About Unicorns

2. Spooky, Not Terrifying

Before now, there haven’t been many options for kids who love reading about spooks but not shrieks, mystery but not monsters, or ghosts but not gruesome ghouls. But with the arrival of age-appropriate books that explore “scary” elements without terrifying kids, they have the chance to dive into the genre in an entirely new way. Take, for instance, the Eerie Elementary series — in which a school building is alive and trying to eat students, so it’s up to three main characters to save the day! Get your child started with the Eerie Elementary Pack (Books #1-8)

“Kids are seeing terrifying things on the news every day, so I think it’s important for them to have ways of experiencing feeling scared while in a safe space,” says Carella. “If they’re a little frightened by a fictional story, they can talk through it and know it’s over when they go to sleep. These experiences help them learn how to process their emotions."

While this new crop of suspenseful books have slightly scary parts in them that will help your child practice that social-emotional learning, they aren’t so terrifying that your little one will be up all night. For instance, the board book Good Night, Little Monsters will actually prepare your little one to sleep, and Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier (the author of Smile and Sisters) is a masterful story about a girl who discovers her new town is haunted — but must face her fears to help her little sister.


Scary (But Not Too Scary) Books

3. Video Games Galore

Kids often love video games for their rich worlds, vast array of characters, villains that must be outsmarted, and action-packed plots. Before now, parents felt the need to make their child choose between these things and reading. With the debut of new books inspired by video games, however, kids can get hooked on books for the same reasons — or at least feel “grown-up” like their older siblings who are playing video games.

“Younger siblings of kids who are gaming often want to be gaming themselves but can’t yet, and that’s why they’re going to these books — so they can feel like they’re part of that experience,” says Carella.

Books About Video Games

4. More Empowered Female Characters!

We’ve seen books with strong female characters trending for a while now, but it’s worth pointing out due to the sheer number of diverse books that feature incredible girls coming to bookshelves every day. It’s truly something worth celebrating! From the stories of a real-life, young female reporter in the Hilde Cracks the Case series to an ode to all bold, dreaming girls in the board book Dream Big, you’ll continue to see books that inspire kids. (Here are 20 female characters that show just how strong girls are.

“These are strong, exciting stories about being proud of who you are, and it’s important for both boys and girls to see girls in these starring roles more frequently,” says Carella.


Books With Strong Female Characters

5. Pugs With Personality

Most kids love dogs, but cute pudgy dogs with lots of wrinkles? That’s a recipe for obsession. We’re seeing a big emphasis on pugs right now, a fascination that may be fostered by Insta-famous pups like the Pugdashians. With a number of these books, the fact that the little dogs think they’re all that makes for a humorous storyline, as kids giggle at the pups who take themselves a tad too seriously.

“Pugs are just so cute, and they’re everywhere right now — so many of my friends even have Instagram accounts for their pugs!” says Carella. “Books featuring them tend to be adorable or very funny. And it’s extra fun when the story is told from the pug’s point of view, because kids love to imagine what their pets are thinking.”

Take the famous Pig the Pug series, in which Pig insists on being the winner or the star of the show — or, simply stinky and bath-free in the latest installment of the series, Pig the Stinker. (Here are activities from Pig the Stinker that’ll help your little one love baths!) Meanwhile, middle grade readers will enjoy the rescue story of two pugs in the chapter book Pugs in a Blanket, and the hilarious, hijinks-filled book Pug Pals #2: Yay for Vaycay! tells readers ages 7 to 10 the tale of a vacation at Grandma’s from two pugs’ perspective. 

Books About Pugs

6. Dragons Take Flight

With the popularity of TV shows like “Game of Thrones” over the past few years, dragons have made a flaming entrance into the adult world. Now, we’re seeing a trickle effect as the younger age groups celebrate dragons in their own (age-appropriate!) ways.

“When we see a trend in the grown-up sphere, it tends to trickle down to children’s books," says Carella. "That is what we’re seeing with dragons right now. They have truly permeated every part of pop culture.”

Middle grade kids will love the wildly popular Wings of Fire series, about battling dragon tribes and young dragonets who have been given prophecies to fulfill (get a sneak peek of the new Wings of Fire book here!). Meanwhile, younger readers will be enchanted by A Friend for Dragon by Dav Pilkey (you know him as the author of Dog Man and Captain Underpants), about a lonely little dragon who ventures out into the world to find a friend, only to sweetly befriend an apple!

And for beginner readers ages 6 to 8, the Branches: Dragon Masters Pack will help them transition into chapter books, all while captivating them with the tale of a boy who is tasked with training his very own dragon. It’s told in six exciting stories parents have told us their kids can’t put down. (Here are more great books for beginner readers.)

Books About Dragons

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