From mental health to the climate crisis, children’s books are tackling the hot topics of our age. Here, Fiona Noble looks back on the year and, below, our pick of 2019 in each age group
A decade ago, it seemed likely that children’s books would fall victim to the digital age, paperbacks cast aside for Kindles, picture books swiped on iPads. A recent survey of 1,000 parents by charity BookTrust revealed that 26% were subcontracting bedtime stories to Alexa or other home assistants. But the same study showed that 83% preferred “real” books and the sustained boom in the children’s book market is testament to this. David Walliams may have dominated the charts again – he is likely to have the year’s three bestselling children’s books – but, as our reviewers’ choices reveal, look deeper and range, quality and innovation abound.
Children’s books have never been more relevant, echoing the big issues of the day. Titles about mental health and emotions are everywhere, from Sam Copeland and illustrator Sarah Horne’s funny Charlie Changes Into a Chicken (Puffin) and Rebecca Westcott’s Can You See Me? (Scholastic) – whose co-author is 11-year-old Libby Scott, a girl with autism – to Bryony Gordon’s teenage self-help guide You Got This (Wren & Rook). Michael Morpurgo and Onjali Q Rauf were among those addressing the refugee crisis in Boy Giant (HarperColllins) and The Boy at the Back of the Class (Orion) respectively, while Malorie Blackman’s return to the world of Noughts & Crosses in Crossfire (Penguin) combined taut thriller with themes of racism, division and media bias.
This content was originally published here.