Traditional Publishing

Trade debates shift towards shorter books for children – Thursday April 18, 2024

A notable shift towards shorter children’s books is being reported by publishers, agents and librarians, with many welcoming what they see as a challenge to the idea of length as “a marker of merit”, particularly in relation to middle-grade titles. The development is also seen as a way of getting reluctant readers “back into reading” following the pandemic and its impact on comprehension and enjoyment levels.

Discussions at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair around declining reading levels, exacerbated by the pandemic, were accompanied by discussions about book length, difficulty level, and what some see as “unrealistic expectations” around middle-grade titles. One attendee told the Bookseller that “there is a real feeling that books are too long and need to be shortened as attention spans and comprehension decline".

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