Celebrating children’s books for World Book Day

Another World Book Day come and gone, and as with years past, the week of the annual event marked the highest sales for the children’s market for the year so far, with 2.0m children’s books bought in the UK in the seven-day period ending 5 March, adding up to £9.5m. Children’s books accounted for 47% of books bought for the week, their highest share on record for an individual week as measured through BookScan.

£1 World Book Day editions filled the top of the bestseller chart for the week, with pre-school books taking the lead: ‘Hey Duggee: The World Book Day Badge’ has proven the favourite so far, followed by ‘Dinosaur Roar and Friends!’ by Peter Curtis. In the latest results from Nielsen BookData’s annual Understanding the UK Children’s Book Consumer, 15% of parents of children aged 0-4 reported discovering books via World Book Day, with that figure doubling for 5-10s. The majority of the special edition books are aimed more at that 5+ range, so while pre-school books may top the chart for individual sales, fiction accounted for more than half of total sales from the £1 books for the week.

‘Hey Duggee: The World Book Day Badge’ marks the third year in a row that a pre-school book has topped the £1 books in the week of World Book Day, following ‘Gigantosaurus: Dino Spot’ by Jonny Duddle in 2021 and ‘Supertato: Books are Rubbish!’ by Sue Hendra & Paul Linnet in 2020. Even beyond World Book Day, Hey Duggee books have been gaining share in the children’s market; the character was the seventh largest tv/film property for children’s book sales in the UK in 2021 as measured through BookScan, behind Disney, Peppa Pig, Marvel, Minecraft, Pokémon and Paw Patrol and ahead of brands like LEGO, Thomas & Friends and Bing.

As part of the Understanding the UK Children’s Book Consumer study, we ask parents of 0-13s (and 14-17s themselves) what their favourite brands are across all media, not just books. 2021 results put Hey Duggee as the third most popular TV brand for 0-4s, behind Peppa Pig and Paw Patrol and moving up from fourth for that age in 2020. Across all ages and brands, Hey Duggee sits at 25th, up four spots compared to the previous year and jumping up an impressive 17 spots since 2018. The character ranks the highest for girls aged 0-2, only behind Peppa Pig and ahead of Cocomelon, In the Night Garden and Paw Patrol.

TV popularity is one thing, but do kids want more books featuring their favourite characters? Well, as we can guess from Hey Duggee at the top of the chart, the answer in this case is yes! Survey results show that among 0-4s, Peppa Pig, Paw Patrol, Cocomelon, Hey Duggee and Frozen are not only widely popular but fans are also interested in more books. For 5-10s, building games take the lead, with high demand for more Roblox and Minecraft books, along with Pokémon, Frozen and Disney Princesses.

Extending beyond brands and into genres, animal stories gained in popularity for 0-4s in 2021, moving ahead of character books. The number of 5-10s liking funny stories and fantasy/adventure grew, while 11-17s were increasingly into books featuring facts/knowledge, even as fantasy/adventure remained their favourite. The graph to the right shows the five most popular genres for each broad age band in 2021, with classic stories the only one to appear among the top five for each. Overall, nearly half of 0-17s reported preferring fiction to non-fiction, although non-fiction has been gaining over the last five years.

For more valuable insights into children’s reading and leisure habits, the full report for the Understanding the UK Children’s Book Consumer 2021 is now available; please contact for more information.

Data extracted from the BookScan Total Consumer Market (TCM) and the Understanding the UK Children’s Book Consumer 2021. For more information, please contact