Today I’d like to turn the tables and ask our readers for help with a chronic problem around our house: finding great historical fiction books for my ten year-old daughter, Sarah.
It seems simple, doesn’t it? YA is a flourishing genre. Historical books make up a significant portion of the children’s market sales. Yet our weekly tour of the local bookstores always ends in frustration. When it comes to historical fiction for children, the major publishers seem to have reached an agreement. We’ll get a new audience every two or three years. Let’s just keep re-issuing the same old books with new covers. They’ll never notice.
That’s why I’m turning to you for help.
Now before you rush to the comment section to recommend the Little House series or The Sign of the Beaver, let me tell you. She’s already read it. If it’s a classic or was assigned reading when you were in school, she’s already read it. If it’s anything to do with fleeing the Nazis or spying for General Washington, she’s already read it and she doesn’t want to read it again. According to her, “All those books are exactly the same.”
For any publisher reading this, Sarah is your dream child, one of those 5% of uber-readers who account for 80% of all children’s book sales. A bout of childhood cancer and endless hours of chemotherapy left her with a book addiction and parents who can refuse her nothing. In addition to making regular bookstore purchases, she has a Kindle and can download whatever she likes.
As a result, the local librarians know her by name, and they ask her for book recommendations. So do all her friends and classmates. In other words, she’s a walking, talking advertisement for the publishing industry. And all she asks in return is for something new in the realm of historical fiction. What does Sarah mean by new? Great characters, a fresh setting, and a plot that’s not too predictable.
So authors, publishers, and friends, here’s your big chance to sell some books and help me out at the same time. Please post your recommendations in the comment section. If Sarah loves it, she’ll not only read everything else that author ever wrote, she’ll encourage all her uber-reader friends to do the same.
Some last minute guidelines: She’s already read the Dear America, My name is America, and The Royal Diaries series. Don’t worry about reading difficulty, she reads on a college level. And--this is probably the only time we’ll ever say this at the Lady Scribes—no romance allowed. She’s really hates that mushy stuff.
Thank you for your help. I can’t wait to see what you come up with. J