2017 Children's Picture Book Report

Chris Stead
 | Updated March 8, 2021

2017 Children's Picture Book Report

Chris Stead
 | Updated March 8, 2021

We recently surveyed 350 parents from across the world to gauge their attitudes and preferences when it comes to children’s books, and the results and comments were very interesting. Enjoy this glimpse into the world of families around the world in our 2017 Children’s Picture Book Report.

The Five Second Summary

For those of you who want a quick overview, here are the key takeaways from the 2017 Children's Picture Book report. Below it you will find more detail analysis:

  • Parents are still buying a lot of books for their children from bookstores
  • We are most likely to buy books from authors we’ve read before or who are directly recommended to us by a friend
  • Parents have low expectations of digital books. 50% expect a digital book to be simply a digital version of the print book
  • Professional layouts, with easy to read text, well-conceived illustrations and smart design are really important to parents. 66% of respondents strongly dislike poorly produced books
  • Kindle rules the audience, with over 50% of the audience using a Kindle or Kindle app
  • Parents work on tight budgets, hoping to spend between $6.99-9.99 on their paperback books.

IMPORTANT: Make sure before you go, you check our master list of guides. There is guaranteed to be something in there that will help you on your journey.

The 2017 Children’s Picture Book Report

Now let’s delve a bit deeper into all the results and show you the data. We found it really interesting to see where people's expectations sat about their books and we greatly appreciate all of you taking the time  to share your thoughts with us in our survey.

Firstly, Who are You?

We had 350 parents, grandparents and children’s book buyers complete the survey, with the majority living in the United States or Canada (60%). It was fantastic to hear from readers around the world with answers coming from countries as diverse as Malawi, Greece, Brazil and Trinidad & Tobago.

Most of our book buyers were female (87%), but it was good to see the male perspective included too (13%).

The age range of children in the survey was quite spread out, with 66% having children in what we consider the ideal picture book age range (0-6).

Note: Who are we? Old Mate Media a small independent children's book publisher. We create our own books, and we help parents and indie authors create and release world-class children's picture books. The 2017 Children's Picture Book Report helps us make sure our books fulfil your needs. Plus, better advise our clients on improving their book.

Where Do You Get Your Books?

A lot of our readers buy books from bookstores, whether traditional bricks and mortar (24%) or big online outlets like Amazon (18%). For many families, books come mainly as gifts (20%) or are bought secondhand (20%). I know we here at Old Mate Media buy a lot of print books secondhand and our children love their excursions to the local charity store, running straight down the back to see what goodies are on offer today. Libraries are also a key role player in family reading time:

We don't buy books because my children like to read different books so we borrow them from the library. They get to choose from a huge selection of books there.

We all hate a badly produced book

In asking about your bugbears when it comes to children’s books, the vast majority of you were let down by poor production (66%). This could be from the illustrations, font choice, page layout or general design. Some wanted books to be more moralistic and others wanted less morals imposed on the stories.

Children's Picture book report - graph 1

Many felt that some stories were just not written for children. Meanwhile, others identified the long running gender issues in children’s books. As one parent commented "most children’s stories revolve around boys. I'd love to see more girls being part of stories and not just as princess".  We’re with you there, featuring strong female characters in many of our current and upcoming books

Kindle dominates the ebook market

Whilst we found in our earlier survey that Apple was king, with 58% of parents owning an Apple device of some form, this survey for the 2017 Children's Picture Book Report was different. Perhaps it's because we had a higher proportion of US respondents. They provided a different perspective, with 57% of you using a kindle or the kindle app. It was interesting to note that 3 in 4 (75%) of you are using some form of digital reading device or app. The role of digital books in a library is also increasing, with one grandparent commenting:

In the future I hope to be able to read to my grandchildren and although I'm sure we will read hard copies, the convenience and interaction of digital books is undeniably appealing.

The best authors are the ones we know

As we’ve seen previously, parents buying for their kids love to go with an author we know or someone that is personally recommended. Your top three factors that led to you buying a book were:

  1. Previously read other books by the same author
  2. Recommendation from a friend
  3. Review/recommendation in a blog or magazine you follow

This makes it even more important for parents to remember to talk to other parents about their favourite books. If you read a book by an independent author and like it, tell a friend. You’ll be helping everyone out

Children's Picture book report - graph 1

Parents price expectations do vary, but bargains are popular

Parents found the $6.99-$9.99 price point for paperbacks to hit the spot. It was the most popular choice for paperbacks, with the rest of the responses weighted fairly evenly between the other choices. The sub $5.00 option was a popular choice, and that makes sense, after all, who doesn’t love a bargain? But given the raw cost of printing something physical, these books can only be one the smaller side of the scale.

Quite a few readers also would factor in the chance to get a free digital book when shopping as well.

Truly digital books are still a rarity in people’s experiences

As creators of truly interactive digital books, I found the expectations of parents to be quite interesting in this space. A massive 50% of parents had no expectations of interactivity on their digital books. Astonishing, really. Perhaps the most telling response of the 2017 Children's Picture Book Report.

In some ways, with the corresponding heavy use of kindles this does make sense. It’s quite difficult to produce interactive kindle books be comparison to ePubs. But it’s such a missed opportunity for so many people.

If you are one of those people that uses the kindle app on an iPad for your kids books, you are missing out. Especially because books on Apple Books are designed to be much more interactive and have many more features. If you are one of those 50%, be sure to check out the article, how truly digital books can enhance early learning.

I love children's picture books, first as a teacher and now as a parent. I think the quality of the text is key - a story that is relatable for the children so they can make personal connections with it (and ultimately help them comprehend the story)

Book Clubs are a Winner

The convenience of having great books delivered to your door or device is definitely popular with parents. Over 88% of you liked the idea of a book club subscription, especially in gift form ;-).

To help you with this gifting goal, we will do an article in the future introducing the idea of a book club and how it can be the perfect gift for a family. Sign up to our newsletter to be notified of its arrival.

Your openness and honesty touched us deeply

All the authors involved in the 2017 Children's Picture Book Report are so grateful and appreciative of the feedback provided. You can see a little about all their books in our original post. We know that life is super busy and so we greatly appreciate you taking the time out of your day to share your opinions and reading experiences with us. We especially appreciated all the comments, some of which you’ve seen in the article.

Your feedback and stories warm our hearts and drive our ambition to create the best reading experiences for children and parents across the world.

We’ll finish up our 2017 Children's Picture Book Report with this beautiful comment:


Where to Next?

I hope you’ve enjoyed this insight into reading and book buying habits of  parents like you around the world. Do share your thoughts on the stats above with a comment below or via one of our social channels. Plus of course, if you are thinking of writing your own book, do look through our guide on how to create a children’s book. And remember to check our master list of guides.

Chris Stead

Chris Stead is an award-winning author and editor with over 26-years of experience in the publishing industry. After publishing over 1000 magazines and launching a dozen commercial websites, fatherhood saw him turn his attention to the world of children's picture books and self-publishing. He now makes books for himself and countless indie authors around the globe.

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