China’s publishers of children’s books have burst on to the international publishing scene as major players. Book Expo America in New York has had a significant Chinese presence since 2015, while Italy’s Bologna Book Fair, the premier childrens lit event in the book industry, has declared China itsguest of honor for 2018.
This past decade has become known as the golden age of publishing of children’s books in China. In 2003, the country had only 20 publishers specializing in children’s books. That number now has jumped to more than580. Some may consider the market saturated, but what we are seeing now is a switch to emphasizing quality over quantity and a focus on producing more original content.
In the year 2000, Harry Potter was translated into Chinese, sparking a major trend in importing translated children’s books from the West. In the years that followed, many foreign works became staples of children’s bookshelves, whether in translation or used for English practice.
Popular titles include Peppa Pig (which my neighbor’s five-year-old son in Changzhou absolutely loved), The Magic School Bus picture book, and Disney Baby Story Book. While these continue to outsell local works, there are a good number of Chinese authors of children’s books enjoying significant success. These include Shen Shixi, author of Dream of Being a Wolf King and a series of Animal Novels, and Leiou Huanxiang, author of Monster Master and Charlie IX & Dodomo. As the market continues to grow, I expect to see more and more Chinese authors stepping up to create quality content for kids.