Children’s Institute Education: What You Need to Know Part I

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Earlier this month, Children’s Institute (Ci9) hosted a wide variety of programming for attendees, covering topics ranging from understanding market trends to using TikTok.

This two-part series will feature three key points from each session. View full recaps of the sessions on the Education Resources page on

Part one will cover:

  • Current Market Trends in Children's Books: An NPD Presentation with Kristen McLean
  • Learning Tools for Academic Achievement
  • Measuring Virtual Events’ Return on Investment
  • Optimizing Sales with Gift Bundles, Curated Boxes & Sidelines

Current Market Trends in Children's Books: An NPD Presentation with Kristen McLean

  1. Market trends are being driven by adult fiction and adult nonfiction. However, the overall outlook for children’s books remains strong into 2022. These categories are especially promising: self-esteem and self-reliance, climate change and conservation, and friendship and inclusion.
  2. Watch sales of frontlist titles versus backlist titles. While the industry operates on a frontlist model, these titles can be hard for readers to discover because backlist favorites can put pressure on shelf space.
  3. Kids’ nonfiction will also be strong, even as we return to in-person school and work, because families continue to worry their children have have fallen behind in education because of disruptions due to COVID-19.

Learning Tools for Academic Achievement

  1. Parents can be concerned about their child’s reading level, but many educators and booksellers are moving away from reading level and, instead, are focusing on the books that students are interested in and motivated to read. 
  2. Summer reading assignments may not include new books children are interested in reading. Supplement assignments with different activities, such as hosting a reading challenge that encourages students to read more widely. Or host a teacher’s night to tell educators about new or upcoming titles that pair well with current curriculum.
  3. Offer engaging resources to supplement what children are learning in school, such as educational toys (especially ones with book tie-ins). These can be fun alternatives that don’t feel like just another assignment.

Measuring Virtual Events’ Return on Investment

  1. There are different ways to define a virtual event as being “worth it.” Instead of tracking event sales, consider focusing on the quality of conversation between guest speakers and the way attendees engage with the virtual events. Think of it as providing a cultural service for your community.
  2. Collaborative virtual events with other bookstores can be very successful, both for broadening your reach but also for networking with colleagues and sharing ideas.
  3. Don’t be afraid to say "no" and to manage expectations with publishers. Virtual events are still resource-intensive, and it’s important to be mindful of your bandwidth to produce the best experience possible.

Optimizing Sales with Gift Bundles, Curated Boxes & Sidelines

  1. Some booksellers have experienced a spike in book bundle orders during the pandemic, since customers are looking to send care packages to loved ones. In addition, boxes have been popular with middle grade and younger readers.
  2. Consider curating boxes and bundles around themes, genres, and age groups to target specific reading populations. 
  3. Vary the types of sidelines you offer in boxes. Examples include origami paper, pencil and pen sets, journals, and candles. If your subscription offerings are tiered, consider adding larger items, like puzzles or stuffed animals, at higher price points.

Watch BTW on Friday, September 17, for the second part of this series, which will cover: