The library of puppies, fairies and beasts: kids’ summer reading in 2022

With children home from school and embarking on summer reading adventures, library borrowings for children’s fiction jumped up from July to September in the UK, according to public library lending data from Nielsen BookData’s LibScan. While just shy of 450k children’s fiction books were borrowed in the four weeks to mid-July, that increased to over 700k for the next four weeks, and 650k in the following four-week span. That’s the typical pattern each year, shown in the graph, but 2022 did improve on 2021’s numbers, going from 1.2m across eight weeks in 2021 to nearly 1.4m from 17 July to 10 September 2022.

Along with the numbers getting bigger, the most borrowed fiction titles significantly changed year-on-year. In 2021, Jeff Kinney’s 15th ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ book ‘Deep End’ led the way, and the author accounted for 22 of the top 50 books, with the remaining spots held by eight other authors. While Kinney maintained the same number of spots in 2022, he was joined by 13 other authors among the top 50 books, showing kids were going for more than just the biggest names. Part of that increased variety stems from both David Walliams and J.K. Rowling losing four spots each, dropping to eight and three books respectively in the summer’s top 50. Even the very top of the chart saw a shakeup: the 16th ‘Wimpy Kid’ book ‘Big Shot’ doesn’t come into the chart until seventh for 2022, with two ‘Beast Quest’ books by Adam Blade, two ‘Dog Man’ books from Dav Pilkey, the second ‘Dragon Realm’ book by Katie Tsang & Kevin Tsang and a ‘Middle School’ book from James Patterson all preceding it.

Regardless of which individual books were borrowed the most across the two time periods, the same author came out on top for cumulative borrowings across all her books. Daisy Meadows was the most popular children’s fiction author through libraries by a significant margin, with more than 400 titles borrowed at least once, adding up to over 80k total borrowings. The combination of fairies and puppies looks to be truly magical, as her top borrowed books were ‘Seren the Sausage Dog Fairy’ and ‘Pandora the Poodle Fairy’, although I’m sure many a librarian was happy to put ‘Jude the Librarian Fairy’ in readers’ hands, which was her fourth most popular title.

Focussing on altogether different kinds of creatures, Adam Blade claims the runner up spot for either year. Of his c250 books in circulation, ‘Mallix the Silent Stalker’ and ‘Teknos the Ocean Crawler’ went home with readers the most often in summer 2022, ranking first and second for overall children’s library borrowings from mid-July to September. His books experienced a 15% increase compared to 2021, and among the top ten authors, only Dav Pilkey grew more, with a more than 40% jump in borrowings, boosting him ahead of David Walliams, Liz Pichon, Holly Webb and Enid Blyton compared to the 2021 ranks.


Extending to the top 100, a few additional authors joined Pilkey with at least 40% growth: Katie Tsang & Kevin Tsang more than doubled their numbers year-on-year, while Robert Muchamore nearly did so; Andy Griffiths, Phil Earle, Pip Bird, Harriet Muncaster and Jamie Smart all ranged from 40% to 75% growth. Further to that, twelve authors appear in the top 100 list for summer 2022 and not 2021, shown below, with books varying from Minecraft to Greek gods to aliens to superheroes. Two of the pictured books were among the top ten most borrowed across the eight weeks, ‘The Worst Day Ever’ by James Bishop and ‘Can You Feel the Noise?’ by Stewart Foster.

One thing that ties together a lot of the growing and emerging authors and titles featured here is a focus on fiction aimed at children under nine. This really highlights the importance of libraries, during the summer and all year, in helping young readers find and have access to all kinds of books as they transition to more independent reading and longer stories. Although as we can see from the wide spread of books featured here, it’s just as important for older readers to have that access too, to keep their reading habits going!

Based on data extracted from Nielsen BookData’s LibScan service, which tracks public library borrowings from more than 2,000 individual branches in the UK. For more information, please contact