Common Characteristics Of Best-selling Children’s Books

As outlined by Nodelman and Reimer in The Pleasures of Children’s Literature, here are the common-characteristics of best-selling modern children’s books.

  1. They are written and sold as part of a series.
  2. They have a simple and straightforward writing style.
  3. The central characters are enough like their intended audience for readers to relate to and identify with them. These characters tend to be underdogs (weak/poor/young/otherwise powerless). In the story, these underdogs will need to deal with theoretically more powerful enemies.
  4. There’s a clear distinction between the “goodies” and “baddies”. There’s not much moral ambiguity.
  5. The plots are straightforward and focus on action rather than description/setting/characters’ thoughts and motivations.
  6. Best-selling children’s books operate as wish-fulfillment fantasies for their readers. Despite their theoretical lack of power, main characters perform well under pressure, win against great odds and win the admiration of others as a result.

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