Rough number crunching gives us an odd statistic (though with the popularity of Harry Potter, Skulduggery Pleasant, etc. this is perhaps not surprising). Basically children (for argument’s sake let’s say those aged from 0-15) make up a little less than 10% of the UK population but sales of ‘children’s fiction’ (as defined by the publishers) makes up more than half of the fiction sold here.
Let’s assume that kids read twice as much as adults. To be honest I’m not sure I would believe that, you just need to see the average group of commuters to see how many adult fiction readers there are. Anyway let’s assume that children are more avid readers. Even then that would be two kids fiction books for every child and one for every adult. Adults make up 90% of the population, so that’s still a 9:2 ratio.
To even out the ratio children would have to be getting through a whopping nine books for every one book read by an adult. Someone, somewhere, is reading a lot of kids fiction.
I’ll admit that, aside from a very small number of exceptions, I basically exclusively read children’s fiction. A big part of that is exposure; I work in an environment filled with children’s books so when I’m deciding what to read next my attention is already there, but what’s everyone else’s excuse?
Is it the simplicity of the story-lines? Is it the departure from the every-day themes which can arise in typical adult fiction (even the most fantastical)? Many of us read for harmless escape (that’s my main motivation anyway) perhaps it’s just as simple as that: children’s fiction offers a greater escape from the stresses of adult life.
I’d love to hear your opinion, so feel free to add a comment below. It’d be interesting to see the different reading preferences and reasons behind them. All the best, John
(information gathered from 2013 and 2014 statistics)