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I attended one of her webinars. I liked it. She had good insight and I learned a lot about Chronicle Books.

Chapter Books & Easy Readers / Re: What has happened to chapter books?!
« Last post by Gatz on Yesterday at 10:14 PM »
Thanks, everyone.

Debbie, I wonder whether my library, which wins a lot of awards regionally and even nationally, might be an outlier.

Perhaps they are trying to stay a few steps ahead of the trends as they see them, and even try to help recast chapter books, knowing that many library systems might follow their lead.

I don't mean this to be a cynical inference about my libraries perceptions/motives. It really is an outstanding library. But it would help me make sense of this if I knew my library was sort of out there on its own.

I'm standing by what I wrote above. (Fun being quoted.) My library system still has a full row (both sides) of traditional chapter books. They are in the children's rooms with the picture books, MG, nonfiction, and younger DVDS. These include graphic novels for the age group too. YA is elsewhere in all four branches. Lots of kids do move from chapter books to longer works in third or fourth grade and the Magic Tree House books look longer to me than the older ones, but there are still plenty of readers for these younger books that bridge between leveled readers and MG. (I was in the kids' section today with my teens. My son still prefers a lot of MG to YA because he isn't interested in the romance aspects or darkness in a lot of YA. My daughter struggles with material for older readers and loves her old friends in the chapter books.)
Chapter Books & Easy Readers / Re: What has happened to chapter books?!
« Last post by Pons on Yesterday at 07:26 PM »
I agree, V. Just because kids can decode the words doesn't mean they are ready for the story. Another grandson of mine could read Harry Potter books quite young, but when he read them again later, he was amazed at what he hadn't understood the first time.
Chapter Books & Easy Readers / Re: What has happened to chapter books?!
« Last post by Vijaya on Yesterday at 07:23 PM »
Interesting, Gatz. I worry about children losing their innocence too early. My own kids were precocious readers and I'm glad there was plenty of books that suited their tender hearts. They weren't ready for dementors until they were 12 or so.  At my library, PBs and CBs are in one section, and MG and YA are shelved together.
Chapter Books & Easy Readers / Re: What has happened to chapter books?!
« Last post by Hopeful on Yesterday at 12:57 PM »
My daughter is in 4th grade, and she tells me that one of the most popular books in her class is "Land of Stories."  The books in this series each have close to 500 pages.  The Harry Potter series is what's "hot" with the 1st-3rd graders at her school.  The "chapter books" that were popular in years past (like "Magic Treehouse") are still read but largely by a very young crowd it seems.
Chapter Books & Easy Readers / Re: What has happened to chapter books?!
« Last post by Pons on Yesterday at 12:30 PM »
My grandson is 11 and struggles with reading. He likes The Notebook of Gloom series and Eerie Elementary series which both seem like old school chapter books to me. Maybe the librarian has a different understanding or use for the term Chapter Books than the pub world does. I think both of these series (at least The Notebook of Gloom) are still adding new books, but they would have started a while ago. Things could have changed since then.

I still think there is a need and a market for the old school chapter books. I hope they don't disappear.
Chapter Books & Easy Readers / Re: What has happened to chapter books?!
« Last post by andracill on Yesterday at 11:58 AM »
My son is currently almost 17, so my experience is a little out-dated (apparently), but when he was reading chapter books, the big series was Magic Treehouse. This was in Kinder and 1st, and he read quite a few. However, at the end of 1st grade, he picked up Harry Potter, read the entire series in 6 months, and never looked yeah, I can see how that's made a difference.

At the same time, my nephew, who is currently 9 and in 3rd grade, doesn't really love reading. He's still reading books like Magic Treehouse (and some kind of graphic novel series -- I can't recall the name, even though I'm apparently the one who first got him hooked, LOL). So I do think it depends a lot on the reading ability and interests of the kids. And my niece (other side of the family) who just turned 8 also just started Harry Potter a week or so some kids are waiting til they're older.
Chapter Books & Easy Readers / What has happened to chapter books?!
« Last post by Gatz on Yesterday at 11:53 AM »
Hi, everyone,

In another thread in Chapter Books, Debbie Vilardi notes:

"Chapter books are almost always sold as a series. That's something to have in mind. Chapter books also have the same audience as picture books age wise, ages 4-8. But they are for kids who are reading on their own. The themes and topics are therefore less sophisticated than those for middle grade novels. They're also shorter, topping out at about 10,000 words and starting as short as 5,000. The popular ones are very popular and kids are loyal to them. It's best to have one written fully and another two outlined in full with ideas for more. These series go deep."

This has also been my conception of chapter books and their market, for a long time.

Imagine my surprise, then (he says), when I walk in to the children's section at my public library, after not having been there in a couple of years (shameful!), and being greeted at the entrance with a very large rack of books called "Chapter Books."

These didn't look like any other chapter books I've seen:

1--They all were 275 pages, at minimum.

2--They all appeared to be stand-alone novels, not parts of series. Hardcover, beautiful covers.

3--Opening a bunch of them at random, I found that the language in most was at the level I always associated with MG novels.

4--If there hadn't been the sign "Chapter Books" above them, I would have just assumed they were a rack of middle grade novels.

Rather stunned and perplexed, I went over to the children's librarian and asked, What's happened to chapter books? These all look like MG novels to me.

He said that chapter books had undergone a fundamental transformation in recent years. He said that the old familiar paperback chapter book series like Boxcar Children were still available, on a single shelf in the PB room. But, he said, most of the new chapter books were indeed like MG novels in size and language, maybe just a tad lower than middle grades.

When I asked him What happened?, He said, "Harry Potter." He said that 5-8-year-olds now want BIG chapter books with meaty stories..

Have any of you noticed these developments?

Picturing Your Next Picture Book, from Proposal through Publication
with Chronicle Books Senior Editor Naomi Kirsten

Registration ends 8:00 AM MST Sat. February 23rd
Saturday, February 23rd, 2019 @ 10:00 am - 12:00 pm Mountain Standard Time
$15 for Members, $30 for Non-members
This event will be recorded. A replay will be available to all those that register for one month after the event.
Naomi is also critiquing manuscripts and illustrator portfolios in conjunction with our region wide Great Critique event in April. More details on purchasing a critique here.
Webinar attendees will be able to submit to Naomi after the webinar. Submission instructions will be e-mailed to attendees after the event.

To register for the webinar:
— Register and pay on the bottom of this page with
— Approx. one week before the webinar, you will receive an e-mail containing the link to the webinar.
— Approx. one hour before the webinar, you will receive a reminder e-mail containing another link to the webinar. (So don't worry if you misplace the first e-mail.)
— Click on the webinar link to sign on live.
— If you miss the live webinar, no worries, you will receive a link to the video replay after the event. The replay will be available for one month following the event.

Webinar Summary:
How do you increase your chances of getting published? It helps to have a strong manuscript, a compelling pitch, and, yes, a window into an editor’s thought process. This content-rich webinar will tackle all three of these considerations and more, guiding attendees through the development of a successful picture book pitch all the way through the development process en route to publication, giving illuminating glimpses into what a children’s book editor is thinking along the way. During this two-hour webinar, Naomi Kirsten will also walk webinar attendees through select picture books that she has developed with authors and illustrators at Chronicle Books.

Webinar objectives:
— Gain a deeper understanding of the acquisition process. What is Chronicle Books looking for when considering a picture book manuscript?
— Walk through the publication process once a picture book manuscript is acquired by a publisher like Chronicle Books.
— Undertake a deep dive of three published picture books, from the original pitch through the development process to publication.
— Unpack key Children’s book trends and themes that have endured for the past decade, while examining emerging trends.
— Explore the non-fiction picture book opportunities for first-time authors.

Questions? Please e-mail Annie Bailey at

Naomi Kirsten, Senior Editor, Chronicle Books
Naomi Kirsten is a Senior Editor at Chronicle Books in San Francisco, California. She acquires approximately 20 titles each year, ranging from picture books to games, board books, and novelty formats with a focus on smart, art-driven projects. Naomi’s titles include I DIDN’T DO MY HOMEWORK BECAUSE…; THE TRUTH ABOUT MY UNBELIEVABLE SCHOOL…; New York Times Notable Book and Society of Illustrators Gold Medal Winner THE BEAR’S SONG; I HATE MY CATS (A LOVE STORY); WHEN AN ELEPHANT FALLS IN LOVE; the YOU AND ME, ME AND YOU series; and THE STAR WARS COOKBOOK: BB-ATE, WOOKIEE PIES, HAN SANDWICHES AND OTHER GALACTIC SNACKS, and ICE SABERS, projects she originated for the Star Wars franchise. She also develops publishing programs with Taro Gomi, Benjamin Chaud, Richard McGuire, and Marc Boutavant. On Instagram and Twitter: @naomi_kirsten
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