Friday, June 02, 2006

Writing for a waning audience?

As far as writing a children's picture book, I'm starting to wonder if I'm a dime short, and a dollar too late. Word has it, all over children's literature blogs, that picture books are on the decline. As an employee of the newspaper media, I know newspapers are too. People's reading habits aren't like they used to be.

Less people are reading newspapers; newsrooms are laying off staff all over the country. Less people are reading books. Libraries — public and school — seem to be struggling. I know locally, many libraries are open less hours. One school I visited lately, had no full time librarian at all — teachers alternated.

Now, thing is, I hear that students are entering journalism more than ever before. And SCBWI conferences are getting bigger each year. So, although it appears that less people are reading, more people are wanting to write things for people to read.

Something to ponder.

2 comments:

Cynthia Leitich Smith said...

I'm worried about the future of print journalism. I actually went to a top J-school, and everyone really great that I know has gotten out. But the forces affecting readership of newspapers and picture books are different. We do need to fight for libraries and librarians (the same communities seem to find money for new sports stadiums), but what's happening with the picture book market is in large part cyclical. We have a small generation of four-to-seven year olds right now but lots of teens. That's why YA is selling more and pbs less. The population curve will rise and fall again to be sure.

rindamybyers said...

Adults are entering classes and conferences to learn how to write in later years because, unfortunately, they never learned how in grade school or high school--and never caught the reading bug there either. When I think of some of the public school systems and the classes in those systems that I've sat in and watched during school visits and my teacher ed classes....I shudder...I don't wonder at all that adults are going back to school later on to catch up on what they were never taught properly in the first place. It's much harder for them them...and so much more expensive...what a waste of opportunity in young lives.

BTW, I have noticed that top quality PB's, cyclical market or no, don't seem to have a lot of trouble with selling well....but, then, again, there are a lot of those best-selling artists and illustrators who had trouble finding a publisher in the first place.....no matter how cyclical the market was at this or that particular time....it's the midlist PB market specifically that is so sensitive to cycles in age populations...

Probably everyone needs to be more concerned then we are about kids learning to read and learning to love reading in the first place....again, in many areas, the public schools are in deep, deep do-do...in more ways than one...no money for supplies or facilities...low teachers' salaries...terrible testing procedures...no or little recesses or physical exercise time during a school day...constant discipline problems...and a virtual epidemic of ADHD/ADD children on Ritalin. No wonder our children don't learn to read and write--or to love doing either one.

It takes a village to raise a child...it takes a village...