Trends in Juvenile Literature, 2024

Amid significant geo-political turmoil and the madness that always accompanies presidential election years, the world of juvenile literature marches on.

Right off the bat, we must note that the total number of published works within juvenile fiction and juvenile nonfiction (which includes YA titles) will be about 10% higher in 2024 than 2023.

A 10% increase from one year to the next is significant. The big jump is in juvenile nonfiction, which is running 18% higher in 2024 than 2023.  Publishers are playing catch-up from supply chain issues that affected publishing in 2022 and 2023.  Many works are finally finding time on the press, and paper on which to print.

Below are the book trends that we have identified for 2024. There is some departure from the recent past. 2022 was all about Covid—there’s none of that in 2024.  In 2023, we saw a tsunami in sequels, prequals and variations with popular series. This has settled down for 2024—but just a little bit.

As always, the disclaimer for our annual trends is this:  These are simply areas in juvenile literature that are identifiable or salient.  The list is by no means definitive. There are other movements within the industry that are not listed below.

Emotional Intelligence:

Both before and through the Covid crisis, we saw a significant increase in the number of books for young readers focused on self-care, resilience and compassion. Titles that focus on these principles are now in the backlist. What principle is dominating the 2024 front list? Emotional Intelligence.

This is an interesting development. It shows a progression and maturity of approaching well-being in a more holistic fashion. The titles that take the topic head-on also show a progression of approaching mental health in a way that actually appeals to young readers. Examples of books that feature emotional intelligence:

· Resilient Ruthie by Shannon Anderson: Crabtree Sunshine: 9781039809918

· Rhythm by Jackie Azua Kramer, Magination Press: 9781433842634

· Who's in Charge? By Stephanie Allain, Candlewick Press: 9781536226508

· It's Okay to Not Be Okay by Danielle Sherman-Lazar: 9781837962983

· Faking Happiness, Feeling Sadness by Jennifer Licate, Boys Town Press: 9798889070139

· Seeds of Change by Nina Laden, Roaring Brook Press: 9781250810076

Manga Madness:

This is a trend we’ve seen develop since 2018. We’ve, quite frankly, kind of ignored it. But, we cant hide from Manga forever. The genre continues to grow to the point that we simply must acknowledge Manga as a big movement in juvenile literature.

In 2024, there are 1,575 Manga titles set to release. That’s a lot of titles in one single BISAC category.

Either Manga is here to stay, or the few publishers that specialize in Manga are trying to squeeze the most out of a fad that is on the way out. We’ll report back in 2025 to see if the trend is at its trough or apex.

Some emblematic titles in the Mange world that will release in 2024:

· Chainsaw Man Vol 13 by Tatsuki Fujimoto, Viz Media: 9781974741021

· Blue Lock 5 by Muneyuki Kaneshiro, Kodansha Comics: 9781646516629

· Jujutsu Kaisen, Vol. 22 by Gege Akutami, Viz Media: 9781974743414

· Cat + Gamer Volume 5 by Wataru Nadatani, Dark Horse Manga: 9781506736648

Fantasy and Real Crime:

There’s a turn in YA fantasy books, it’s not dragons or secret worlds—it’s, a new category that might merit a new term. We’ll throw out “Fantasy True Crime”.

These books feature characters who are either perpetrating or solving heinous real-world crimes.  Murder, robbery and more murder, also a strong dose of kidnapping. Many of these titles integrate these real-world crimes into wholesale destruction of worlds—which qualifies as a crime.

Today’s fantasy characters are taking cues from the world of true crime podcasts, maybe? This new direction in YA fantasy will see many new entrants in 2024.

· A Tempest of Tea (Blood and Tea) by Hafsah Faizal, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 9780374389406

· The Bad Ones by Melissa Albert, Flatiron Books: 9781250894892

· After You Vanished by E A Neeves, Disney Hyperion 9781368095976

· The Vanishing Station by Ana Ellickson, Amulet Books: 9781419764226

· City of Magic and Monsters by Estelle Laure, Disney Hyperion, 9781368049405

Environmental awareness:

Books that instruct regarding environmental awareness and conservation are not new. What is new in 2024 is a more nuanced way of discussing conservation and environmental impact.

The new books are more interesting and readable for youngsters. They focus on a single story that relates to the topic in a compelling way. Many are more science based and more interesting than the generalist type of environmental books that have filled the category for many years.

Examples include:

· Respect the Insect by Jules Howard, Wide Eye Editions: 9780711283312

· Happy Stories for Animal Lovers by Anna Shepeta, Ivy Kids: 9780711285859

· 100 Things to Know about Saving the Planet by various authors, Usborne Books: 9781805075080

· The Wolf Effect: A Wilderness Revival Story by Rosanne Parry, Greenwillow Books: 9780062969583

· Kids Fight Extinction by Martin Dorey, Candlewick Press: 9781536234008

· Fashionopolis by Dana Thomas, Dial Books: 9780593325025

Other Observations:

·         Anyone who has attended a library or school conference in 2023 saw many classes and activity around the “Science of Reading”. This is positive development that can help many emergent readers experience more success with reading. Keep an eye out for more titles that engage these principles into stories and illustration.

·         LGBTQ+ everywhere. It seems that very few YA titles do not have contain a BISAC code of LGBTQ+. We’re keeping and eye on what percentage of new YA books are coded thus and what increase or decrease occurs over 2024-2025.

·         More independent authors. While the number of authors who take the independent route has steadily increased since 2017, we are looking for if and when the percentage of published works by indie authors stabilizes from 2023 to 2024. The big question is if and how conventional publishers continue to respond to the changing landscape.

·         What AI will do for books. We considered what affect AI writing and illustration is having on published works in 2024. However, data is pretty thin on this area. However, we know that many publishers are turning to AI for help with editing and especially artwork. This will make for a tasty article in early 2025 as this trend either develops or fades.