Dear Book Lovers,

Recently I attended a workshop that talked about the marketing of children’s books. The book industry,  in the throes of major change, paid for a survey that would tell them (the book publishers) if people are buying children’s books, who is buying them and what influences those purchases. Some of the results surprised them.

According to the survey parents, especially moms, and teachers have the most influence over what younger children read. Grandparents and close friends are next in influence. This is not a surprise. The surprise was that teens who were surveyed said that parents, teachers and close friends have the most influence over what they read. Publishing companies expected media to have a greater influence, but it seemed that teens in particular are taking their cues from people they know and with whom they have developed a trust relationship.

What do I think this means? I think it means that you as a parent are more influential in your teen’s reading life than others may be telling you. What you think about a book, what you think about a behavior or value that is being espoused in a book, counts with them. The kids want to hear from you. But a word of caution also gleaned from the workshop–unpack your opinion for them. Let your teen see why you know what you know. Show them you respect their ability to think it through when you’ve given them good info.

What do the survey results mean for teachers? I think it means that if you are a junior high or high school teacher, the kids are listening to you. Yes,  as someone who taught junior high and high school, I know it sure doesn’t look that way. But evidently, they are paying attention. (Trying their best to keep it a secret from you, but nevertheless….) Your opinion counts with them.

BTW, Parents, Grandparents, Teachers, Focus on the Family has  moved their book reports on tween and teen books to The Thriving Family web pages. These reports, if you haven’t looked at them before, are not the usual kind of book reviews. They don’t review a book for its literary merit rather they scrutinize a book for its values and offer discussion questions. It’s good info.