May 24, 2016

BookExpo 2016: Bite-sized trends and takeaways

For youth-serving librarians, attending Book Expo America can feel a little too good to be true: there are books everywhere, and you're allowed take them! There are authors everywhere, and you get to hear them talk about cool stuff! And best of all, there are librarians everywhere, and you get to share your excitement with your peers!

That was a lot of exclamation points, but BEA is a lot to take in. That's why I've tried to hone down my BEA 2016 experience to a handful of bullet points that can help guide your library's kids and teen book selection this spring and fall.  

3 Trends from BEA 2016

  • The drive for more inclusive and diverse books is powerful, and publishers are getting better at promoting and marketing diverse books. There's still a long way to go, but what I saw this year gave me hope for the forward momentum of children's and YA books.
  • Despite the increasing presence of realistic YA fiction, YA fantasy is still going strong, and trending toward darker, genre-blended fare.
  • More and more authors are writing across age groups, with YA authors in particular drawn towards writing middle grade books--Tahereh Mafi's middle grade fantasy Furthermore (Dutton, 8/2016), for instance, is making a splash.

Want more? Here's a small sampling of further BEA superlatives…

Rebecca's BEA book haul
Rebecca's BEA book haul (well, a third of it!)
  • Most anticipated book for young readers: Though there were loooong lines for several popular YA fantasies, the most coveted book seemed to be Raina Telgemeier's graphic novel Ghosts (Graphix, 9/16). I only managed to snag a copy by lining up for it 40 minutes early! (I also read it immediately -- it was worth the wait.)
  • Most promoted books: They might not have been the biggest books of the show, but it seemed like everywhere you turned there were ads or pitches for Jory John and Lane Smith's picture book Penguin Problems (Random House, 9/16) and Stephanie Garber's YA fantasy Caraval (Flatiron Books, 1/2017). The latter, a debut, has already sold international and film rights, so prepare for plenty of interest from teens and adult YA readers.
  • Most surprising moment: Debut author Sonia Patel shook up the BEA YA Buzz Authors panel by RAPPING the pitch for her book (Rani Patel in Full Effect, Cinco Puntos, 9/2016). Patel's performance was unexpected and gutsy, and her book is sure to resonate with teens who love rap and hard-hitting realism.
  • Most intriguing pop culture tie-ins: Aside from the gleeful promotion of franchise fiction, I noticed two forthcoming books with exciting ties to pop culture. First: Activist, YouTube personality, and reality TV star Jazz Jennings is adding "memoirist" to her resume with Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen (Crown Books, 6/2016). Second: Rebel Genius (Roaring Brook Press, 10/2016), the debut fantasy novel by Avatar: The Last Airbender co-creater Michael Dante DiMartino, will appeal to middle grade readers and older Avatar fans alike.
  • Most beloved figure: Richard Peck had extremely long signing lines, as well he should: his sharp, genteel humor and respect for young readers is evident throughout his body of work, including his latest, The Best Man (Dial Books, 9/2016).
  • Most intense fangirl moments: My inner squee reached its zenith at School Library Journal's Day of Dialog, which takes place on the first day of BEA: I got to meet Jason Reynolds (As Brave As You, Atheneum, 5/2016), who's as wonderful as you'd expect, and I heard Laini Taylor speak about her forthcoming fantasy Strange the Dreamer (Little, Brown, 9/2016), which stars a librarian. Be still my heart!

For more BEA 2016 goodies, including printables and spreadsheets, subscribe to my "NextReads for Youth" updates from the NoveList Book Squad.

Rebecca Honeycutt is a NextReads Bibliographer at NoveList. She's delighted that it's her job to find and share the most enjoyable books for kids and teens. Want to hear more from her? Sign up for Rebecca's Book Squad email updates.


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