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Children’s Books: Classified

By Shari Faden Donahue

Children’s book classifications are loosely designated—based on the subjective opinions of industry experts. With the thousands of children’s book publishers that co-exist in today’s market, it is not surprising that children’s book formats and guidelines vary considerably. For example, one publisher’s early readers may target first and second graders, whereas another’s may target second through fourth graders. Though there are exceptions, the children’s book category consists of the following general classifications:

Baby Books (8–12 pages/newborn to age 3)
Picture Books (24–48 pages/ages 3 to 8)
Coloring and Activity Books (16–132 pages/ages 3 to 18)
Easy Readers (10–64 pages/ages 5 to 9)
First Chapter Books (64–128 pages/ages 6 to 10)
Middle Readers (96–168 pages/ages 9 to 12)
Young Adults (128–300 pages/ages 12 to 18)

The children’s book market includes:

Trade Market: higher priced, higher quality hardcover or paperback titles sold at bookstores
Mass Market: lower priced, lower quality paperbacks —typically tied to a popular character—sold at supermarkets, discount stores, newsstands, drugstores, etc.
Institutional Market: school/library curriculum-enhancing titles
Electronic Market: multimedia products including e-books and CD-ROMs