Track leaders: Linda Howard (Tyndale) and Dr. Mary Manz Simon

NPD Presents: Christian Children's Market Trend Report and Outlook

Wondering what is hot and what is not in children’s publishing? The book data experts at NPD will do a deep dive into the Children’s market with a special emphasis on opportunities for Christian publishers.

  • Brenna Connor, Manager of Industry Insights, NPD Books

Creating Editorial Content for Children’s Books

One of the hardest, yet most rewarding jobs in publishing is creating content for children. Not only do kids’ books need to attract the attention of little ones, but they also need to be entertaining enough that a parent will want to read them over, and over, and over, until they suddenly realize they have it memorized. Christian publishers have historically been criticized for publishing “in a bubble” and ignoring the issues kids are facing from society around them. Body positivity, gender, privilege, and diversity are very real issues for children growing up in a global economy today. Seamlessly integrating these and other contemporary social themes into fiction and nonfiction books has become increasingly important if we are to be effective in reaching families. But, to what degree should Christian publishing respond to trends that drive the children’s general book market? Where does a child’s awareness of biblical literacy fit in a family of parents who have no religious affiliation? This session will address these and other concerns that impact frontlist editorial content and the different ways it can be used.

  • Jesse Florea, editor of Clubhouse and Clubhouse Jr. magazines, Focus on the Family
  • Kristi Gravemann, Marketing Manager, Tyndale Kids and Wander
  • Marianne Hering, Editor, Best-Selling Author & Product Developer
  • Carl Laferton, EVP Publishing/Editorial Director, The Good Book Co., and bestselling children’s author
  • Linda Howard, Associate Publisher for Children & Youth, Tyndale House Publishers | moderator

Effective Illustration and Design for Children

They say the eyes are the window to the soul. And children are particularly visual as they interact with the world around them. The combination of strong content with excellent illustrations in books can trigger strong emotions and help kids to remember what they’ve learned for a very long time. Even years after viewing images, many Christians remember individual illustrations from favorite Bible storybooks or children’s Bibles. Traditionally, Christian publishers have used more realistic representation of characters and scenes in books. However, the use of cartoonish illustrations in graphic novels and artistic interpretation veering toward abstract images in picture books are challenging that historically held position. For Bible stories or narrative nonfiction set long ago, should illustrations be authentic to the period or relevant and familiar to children today? This and other questions will be addressed in this session.

  • Dan Lynch, partner, Brentwood Studios
  • Joel Fulkerson, freelance designer of biblical resources for children
  • Jackie Nunez, Art Director, Tyndale House Publishers
  • Linda Howard, Associate Publisher for Children & Youth, Tyndale House Publishers | moderator

Diversity and Inclusion in Children’s Literature

Children are naturally curious. They learn about their world by noting a variety of facial features, voices, and body language. As publishers, we need to mirror a child’s image and experience to better reflect how a child sees himself in a diverse world. Sensitivity to vocabulary, tone, and illustrations are critical elements in all publishing but especially when addressing issues that could be emotionally charged. Underrepresented ethnicities and underserved minorities are driving a mini-tsunami in the children’s space. This welcome shift is long overdue in multiple formats: novelties, board books, early readers, chapter books, middle grade fiction and non-fiction and graphic novels. Many publishers have increased acquisitions of authors and illustrators representing broader demographics, but any successful pivot must be rooted in the company’s values and mission. Some suggest that diversity matches a niche readership, so those books cannot be commercially successful. Yet the children’s Christian market is perched directly on the front edge of this wave. Questions addressed during this session will include evaluations of priorities and recognition of changing patterns.

  • Katherine Jacobs, senior acquisitions editor, Zonderkidz
  • Xochitl Dixon, children’s author and writer, Our Daily Bread
  • Bunmi Ishola, Children's Book Editor, Penguin Random House
  • Linda Howard, Associate Publisher for Children & Youth, Tyndale House Publishers | moderator

The Spiritual Development of Children

Human development is a lifelong process that occurs in five areas: emotional, physical, cognitive, social, and spiritual. A child’s family, individual differences, and exposure to spiritual concepts are merely a few of the many influences that impact their personal relationship with Jesus Christ. While facts about God, the Bible, Jesus and other biblical concepts do not change with time, children’s vocabulary and understanding do change as they grow up. During the early childhood years, children understand what they can touch and smell and taste. Beginning around age seven or eight, children explore the meaning of abstract concepts like faith and love through personal experiences and traditions. Some societal observers believe that today’s savvy middle graders can process the complexities of difficult topics, like the stories of Abraham and Isaac or David and Bathsheba. Contemporary issues related to gender and sexuality have divided denominations, but what content is developmentally appropriate fiction narratives for children? The session will address this and other topics.

  • Jana Magruder, Strategic Initiatives Director, Lifeway Kids
  • Naomi Krueger, acquisitions editor at Beaming Books
  • Betsy Childs Howard, editor for The Gospel Coalition and children’s author
  • Catherine DeVries, Publisher, Kregel Publications
  • Linda Howard, Associate Publisher for Children & Youth, Tyndale House Publishers | moderator

We thank the following companies for their support of the industry and this event:





For more information on sponsoring this event, contact [email protected]