Pandemic or not, the publishing industry carries on. Authors, illustrators, editors and, most importantly, readers keep writing, drawing and reading. At present, there are approximately 7,300 new juvenile titles set to be released in 2022.
Looking at the sheer number of published books in juvenile fiction and nonfiction from 2019 to 2021, there is not a statistically significant change in the number of new books. In any given year, the number of new books published can move 15 to 20%. For 2019 to 2021, this variation held. In fact, 2020 was a fairly big year for new works and 2021 follows along.
Although the number of new works in the market remains consistent, trends have changed more quickly than might considered "normal".
Coming through 2020 and 2021, we are seeing a dominant trend for 2022, and, surprise! The trend is books about Covid 19. There will be hundreds of new Covid-based titles released before the middle of 2022. The rush to publish Covid-related titles dominated the second half of 2021. Publishing calendars all over the world were simply tossed out and re-made through 2020 and we now see and feel the full impact of an industry making a sharp turn in real time.
Books that have Covid 19 as the principal topic include wistful books about how everyone stayed home, books that discuss the heroism of medical workers and scientists. Books about germ science, virus theories and plagues of the past—interestingly many titles about past plagues. Books about washing your hands, books with illustrations of people wearing face masks, books that mock Covid, etc. etc.
With the tsunami of literature that’s already on a publishing calendar, one can logically ask: After 2022, what areas of the pandemic will be left to write about? Seriously, we haven’t had enough Covid-19 fatigue? Now, we get to be flooded by children’s books on the topic?
Below is a very small sample of new books with Covid as a major theme:
Although books about Covid 19 dominate the field, there are other—we think—interesting trends that are worth noting and hopefully provide some respite from the Covid-weary reader.
Diversity, NBD (No Big Deal).
Publishing follows society at large and books draw conclusions about what a society values and has normalized to some degree.
Since 2009/10, an enduring trend has been including people of all races and ethnic backgrounds in children’s literature—and to do so overtly. From 2009 to 2013, books that included a range of characters was, many times, a little labored if we’re honest about it.
2022 sees this trend "grow up". We'll see a large range of beautiful stories and books that have characters from all walks of life, this time, however the books are naturally and effortlessly inclusive.
In contrast to the recent past, a title in 2022 about, let’s say, an Asian protagonist, went out of its way to be so. In 2022, stories have a diversity of characters and it’s not a “thing” that they’re not of northern European descent. NBD.
This is a great development. Stories that contain characters having interesting experiences is what makes a book worth reading. This and future generations of children can see themselves and others in great stories that are natural and truly worth reading.
Thirst by Varsha Bajaj Nancy Paulsen Books 9780593354391
A Song Called Home by Sara Zarr: Balzer & Bray/Harperteen 9780063044920
All Four Quarters of the Moon by Shirley Marr Simon and Schuster 9781534488861
With Lots of Love by Jenny Torres Sanchez: Viking Books 9780593205006
Race for the Escape by Christopher Edge 9780593486016
The Kaya Girl by Mamie Wojo Little Borwn 9780316703932
Solimar by Pam Munoz Ryan Disney Hyperion 9781484728352
Sunny G’s Rash of Decisions by Navdeep Singh Dhillon Dial Books 9780593109977
Maizy Chen’s Last Chance by Lisa Yee Random House 9781984830258
Pilar Ramirez and the Escape from Zafa by Julian Randall Heny Holt &Co. 9781250774101
Just Harriet by Elana Arnold Waldon Pond Press 9780063092044
Compassion, Kindness and Mental Health
Tagging along with books about Covid, are books that attempt to help young readers develop compassion and kindness, empathy for others and how to process their own feelings. For 2019 to 2021, the big theme in this area was Mindfulness. That theme is receding as books that address emotions more directly are released.
These books provide teachers and parents new tools to help children process and develop their own emotions. It will be interesting to see which titles in this trend stand the test of time.
The Good Egg (and friends) go corporate.
Success of a great character nearly always leads to more of that character. Remember when Pete the Cat had a scant 4 books? Now, you can fill a truck with Pete’s adventures with…everything. The Good Egg et al are moving into your life with hundreds of variations for at least the next 20 years.
Prepare for the Egg’s friends; the Bad Seed, the Couch Potato, the Smart Cookie and the Cool Bean to have their own, many, books in 2022 and beyond.
A Great Year for Middle Grade and YA
Perhaps publishers held back releasing some books in 2021, making 2022 rich with a very long list of books for middle grade to YA readers.
Below are books for middle grade through YA that we can’t wait to see. There are sure to be many awards in this list by the end of 2022:
Altogether, we’ll see that the Covid-related books in 2022 as a moment in time. Once the active pandemic recedes, it will be odd to see an illustration of a person wearing a face mask.
We’ll update this article in the middle of 2022 and see how these trends develop and change.
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