‘A book is a gift you can open again and again.’ It’s a familiar saying, which makes a valid point. Teamed with the fact that research has shown that children who learn to read at an early age have better general knowledge and vocabulary and tend to become more fluent readers as they get older, and that reading has a positive impact on their attention span and concentration, any book for children should be an easy sell.
According to the latest figures from NPD, children’s books sales remain stable in a relatively flat market. That’s no surprise when a survey revealed that more than half of parents surveyed regularly read aloud to their children until the age of five. As retailers will want to be part of this important part of development for children, Baby Brands Direct offers a good selection of Learning Books for various stages of development, from fabric picture and cot bumper books for little ones, to the award winning Leapfrog learning system, which uses clever technology including sound, music and lights to help children attentively learn to read and enjoy books.
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Why are children’s books such good sellers?
Sharing books together is a wonderful parent-child interaction. Usually a calm activity, it allows for quality time spent together, focusing on the book, on language and communication and on each other. Few activities offer such a focused bonding experience, especially for parents who are not at home to be involved in mealtimes or other playtimes. The relatively low price point makes books for babies and small children great impulse buys and worthy gift ideas, so there are plenty of opportunities to sell on.
According to the Book Trust, it’s never too early to start sharing books with babies – three to four months is about right, according to the charity’s research. And because reading a story is part of many bedtime routines – and pretty much every parent is aiming for a calm, stress-free bedtime – books for little ones are always going to be in demand.
Babies under a year old may not be able to follow a story, but from around three months they will want to explore a book with their hands, and will enjoy listening to a parent read, as they change their voice or repeat certain phrases or words. So, books that offer sensory feedback are great for this age – our fabric books are a wonderful introduction to the world of reading. Little ones can enjoy turning the pages, enjoying the pictures and learning to appreciate how it feels to hold a book in your hands – an experience that can last a lifetime if a love of reading is introduced at an early age.
The importance of literacy skills
And why is it so important to instil a love of reading and encourage literacy skills? Well, research has shown that if children lack the necessary literacy skills it can hold them back at every stage of life. They will find it hard to succeed at school, they will be at a disadvantage when they look for a job and will be unable to support their own child’s learning when they become a parent. According to the Literacy Trust, children born into communities with serious literacy challenges even have a lower life expectancy. As well as impacting their employability, (32% of employers are dissatisfied with young people's literacy levels and 15% have been offering remedial literacy training to their new staff) people need to read well to get by in everyday life, from reading instructions on medicines, scrolling through the internet, reading a newspaper or deciphering a bus timetable.
Take advantage of technology
While books may be seem an antidote to screen time, there’s no reason why technology can’t be used to encourage children’s literacy development. The VTech series of electronic learning books make books fun for little hands, with chunky pages to turn, buttons to press, and lights and sounds to stimulate the brain. The repetition of words, phrases and songs appeals to younger children, and will encourage little ones to move on to the next stage of the learning process.
The Leapfrog series of electronic books take reading a step further, introducing more vocabulary, and can be used in conjunction with the LeapStar system, which can help children with their reading from the ages to two to seven. There are more than 25 books to collect – so families will never be short of a present idea, and retailers have plenty of opportunities for repeat sales.
The Literacy Trust Says
Book reading helps children learn language when they engage in responsive interactions about word meanings. This is best learnt in a positive and socially engaging context. There is also value in both repetition and variability. It seems that repetition is particularly important for younger children, who benefit from hearing the same word often and in different contexts. Parents should also be aware that children focus on different components of a book at different ages. Infants start with extracting pictures from the visual scenes, then learning new words, but progress to learning more about the stories, characters and routines in books by the preschool years. They may be able to extract different information over multiple readings of the same book. However, the interactive component may help to introduce variability in the language that parents use, ensuring that it is targeted at the child’s level.