If your child loves a certain TV or film character, it will probably mean that books featuring these characters are the first ones they reach for. With this in mind, we sat down with Rebecca, Editor for Media and Entertainment at Ladybird to have a chat about the appeal and impact of well loved TV characters featuring in children's publishing.
Many children love books based on their favourite characters – Ladybird Peppa Pig books are bestsellers. Why do you think this is?
I think Peppa’s success is partly down to the fact that there’s as much to enjoy about the series for grown-ups as there is for children. Grown-ups hold the purse strings, so appealing to them is key. There’s also a universal truth to the dynamics of the Pig family and their experiences that huge numbers of people, young and old, identify with. Oh, and they’re really, really funny and colourful too!
How do you think books featuring popular tv/film characters can encourage children to read?
I think books like these can provide a springboard. Young children respond well to familiarity and repetition, so starting out with books based on familiar characters helps to build their confidence, encouraging them to then broaden their horizons. They can be a great way in for reluctant readers too.
Do you think character books can replace classic books (eg fairy tales) or should they sit together on a bookshelf to give children a rounded experience of reading?
I think both have their place and that they should sit together, although I do think it’s very subjective; building a rounded experience of reading is as much about discovering personal ‘classics’ as the more traditional ones. Children’s reading should be about enjoyment not enforcing a reading list on them, which can really take the magic out of it.
Do you think a child has to be a fan of the TV character in order to enjoy the books?
That’s an interesting question. No, I’m sure it doesn’t always necessarily follow, although I do think that it probably helps for the child to be familiar with the TV programme (or indeed film/computer game). Perhaps that’s truer of the younger readers than the older ones though, who are a bit more confident about deviating from what they know.
How do (publishing) editors go about choosing which TV characters would crossover to books?
In character publishing, this decision probably lies less with the editor than the publisher/director. However, essentially the criteria applied are similar to those in traditional fiction publishing: the central characters need to be appealing and strong, likewise the stories, and there needs to be a unique selling point (USP). The difference is that a character book’s success is dependent on its associated brand’s popularity. Sometimes this is a safer litmus test than you often have in fiction, unless you’re talking big-hitting, established authors. However, in character books you have to move fast and strike while the zeitgeist is hot. There aren’t many evergreens – Peppa Pig, the Mr Men, Thomas the Tank Engine and Hello Kitty being the notable exceptions that spring to mind.
Are there any new children's TV characters that Ladybird is planning on publishing soon?
Our first titles for Raa Raa the Noisy Lion publish this month and are already causing quite a stir. Raa Raa is the exciting new pre-school series from the creators of Fifi, Roary the Racing Car and Bob the Builder and we are launching with some really cute board storybooks, a Little Library and a sticker activity book.
WIN WIN WIN!
Ladybird have recently published two new Peppa Pig books and we've got three copies of ' Peppa's First Sleepover' to give away to our blog readers. We'd love to know what your child/grandchild's favourite TV character is – whether they appear in a book or not – so just leave a comment below and we'll put all the names into a hat and pull out three winners.
T&Cs apply. Leave your comment by midnight 12th March 2012. Winners will be selected at random and notified by 15th March 2012.