No question about it: the needs of kids, parents, teachers, etc. are becoming greater and more diverse every year--or maybe we should say with every passing grade. If the goal of parenting and childcare books is to make life better, easier, saner and more meaningful for participants on both sides of the generational equation, then publishers deserve praise for their many efforts to cover all the bases. And those bases are changing to reflect the times. In the words of Kitt Allan, associate director of marketing and editorial development at John Wiley, "There's a constant need for new books--ones that address the way we live now. The way the average American family 'looks' and acts is rapidly changing. Increasingly, we see grandparents, teachers and other caregivers involved in the day-to-day raising of children. This has helped transform the market for parenting books."

Largely because of those market changes, publishers' lists continue to grow wider and deeper. Subject matter ages well and updates easily. As always, backlist titles are an important component, ready for new promotions and refurbished editions when conditions warrant. "It's a core category, a great backlist category," says Becky Cabanza, executive editor at Three Rivers Press. "There are always new parents, every single day." Allan concurs: "With the baby boomlet in full swing, demographics are clearly in our favor."

One of the hallmarks of the genre, appropriately--one that hasn't changed--is hope. It starts even prenatally, as exemplified in Thomas R. Verny and Pamela Weintraub's Tomorrow's Baby: The Art and Science of Parenting from Conception Through Pregnancy (just out from Simon & Schuster) or Amy Ogle and Lisa Mazzullo's Before Your Pregnancy: A 90-Day Guide for Couples on How to Prepare for a Healthy Conception (Ballantine, Aug.). A book such as Harvey Karp's The Happiest Baby on the Block: The New Way to Calm Crying and Help Your Baby Sleep Longer (Bantam hardcover, June), which advises on ways to ease even the most colicky baby, carries with it the implicit guarantee that something you do can make a difference.

Other titles offer similar promises. Hyperion's just-published Positive Pushing: How to Raise a Successful and Happy Child by Jim Taylor is dedicated to the proposition that parents can produce satisfied achievers; The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness (Ballantine, Oct.) offers "five steps to help kids create and sustain lifelong joy"; Raising a Good Kid by John F. Smith (Sorin Books, Apr.) bears the reassuring subtitle, "Chances Are You're Doing Just Fine." Indeed, despite today's many social and economic concerns and the pervasive anxiety during recent months, a sweet note of optimism infuses most of the new books in this category.

And practitioners in the field are not just optimistic: they're tireless. They lecture, counsel, post Web pages and write books, reaching out to parents and educators in whatever ways they can. William Sears, considered by many to be the current heir to the Dr. Spock legacy, has two September titles (Eat Healthy, Feel Great: A Kid's Guide to Nutrition and You Can Go to the Potty, both Little, Brown), a "library" that bears his name and an online "pediatrician's office" (, where parents can pose questions. Through the site's link to, parents can also purchase any title in the extensive Sears library, the most recent being the just-published The Successful Child: What Parents Can Do to Help Kids Turn Out Well, written with Martha Sears (Little, Brown). Dr. Sears also writes a column for another Web site,, which also features a message board where he answers parents' questions. Another new guru--a nurse, not a doctor--is "baby whisperer" Tracy Hogg, who tours, lectures, consults with parents and provides nanny training through her company, Baby Technique. (See sidebar.)

Niches Waiting to Be Filled

Though bookstore shelves are bulging with competing volumes, publishers report that they are still able to find unfilled niches and publish strongly into them. In addition to its current fiction hit, The Nanny Diaries (which marginally fits the parenting category, especially given its "real-life" roots), St. Martin's has what it considers a very promising new title, The Post-Pregnancy Handbook by Sylvia Brown and Mary Dowd Struck (July), which addresses the personal concerns of postpartum women--their health, physical changes, emotions, stresses and joys--rather than the concerns of new "moms." The authors' exclusive concentration on the woman rather than the "mom" may not be revolutionary, says editor-in-chief George Witte, "but it is a new focus." Plans call for an "elbow-grease campaign," Witte adds, to reach the community of new mothers. "One of our most successful backlist titles is While Waiting, with at least five million copies sold, many through bookstores but a lot through direct giveaways to doctors and hospitals, so we have experience and contacts in that area."

The Working Mother's Guide to Life (Three Rivers, Sept.), which provides working moms with a roadmap for combining parenthood and careers, also fills a hole, says Cabanza. "It's so very comprehensive; it's 'what to expect when you're expecting to be a working mom.' We're hoping for special sales, so that every woman who goes on maternity leave gets a copy." Author Linda Mason, the cofounder of Bright Horizons, the nation's largest provider of corporate on-site daycare, is, in Cabanza's words, "a real advocate, very inspiring. We can really reach out with this title."

Publisher Alex Kahan at the fledgling Nomad Press in Vermont expanded into parenting titles when he judged the existing fare mostly "too didactic. We saw a niche in the marketplace that looked at the fun part of parenting but also provided practical value." Having had success with a series for "baffled parents" on youth sports that he packaged for McGraw-Hill, Kahan launched the Go Parents! Guides series ("practical parenting advice with a sense of humor") last October with Teaching Your Children Good Manners by Lauri Berkenkamp and Steven C. Atkins. Two more books have just joined the line--"Mom, the Toilet's Clogged!": Kid Disasters and How to Fix Them by Lauri Berkenkamp and Talking to Your Kids About Sex from Toddlers to Preteens by Berkenkamp and Atkins--with others planned on such topics as raising a fit family, staying at home, money, divorce, etc.

An unabashedly humorous perspective on parenthood can also be found in The Big Rumpus by New York City stroller mom Ayun Halliday (Seal Press, May), who writes in the personal, harried tradition of Erma Bombeck.

"As a parent, I can't get enough books," says Suzanne Donahue, associate publisher at the Free Press. "It's a crowded field, but if you get the right book it can live there forever. We see it with James Garbarino. Lost Boys came out in 1999, right before the Columbine shootings. The timing was coincidental, but it put Jim on the map. He got coverage we didn't expect and became established in everyone's Rolodex as an expert. When Parents Under Siege came out last September, it, too, got lots of attention. For his new book, And Words Can Hurt Forever [see sidebar, p. 36], we've already booked Today. In addition, we have an online marketing department. We can mine deeply in this area. If you give people unique content, the Web can be a great marketing tool. People read and get excited and click right through to the bookstore." Touchstone's paperback edition of Parents Under Siege will also appear in September, in time for a tie-in publicity campaign with And Words Can Hurt.

(Not all books in this category, naturally, are geared for a specific niche--the "all-purpose" parenting guides, publishers and retailers agree, are unlikely to go out of fashion anytime soon. One such title, being released this month in an updated second edition, is Parenting for Dummies by Dan and Sandra Gookin and Mary Jo Shaw, from Hungry Minds, a Wiley company.

Feeling the September 11 Aftermath

Like Columbine, September 11 caused a surge of interest in titles that taught tolerance and countered violence. At the Bank Street Bookstore in New York, reports assistant manager Jennifer Brennan, customers showed interest in William Pollack's Real Boys: Rescuing Our Sons from the Mythis of Manhood (Holt/Owl), Garbarino's books and titles on raising nonviolent, compassionate children. "We didn't necessarily sell more, but customers were definitely looking for books like that."

Dominic Cappello's Ten Talks Parents Must Have with Their Children About Violence (Hyperion) seemed tailor-made for the event, says Brennan, and was especially popular. (According to Cappello's editor, Mary Ellen O'Neill, Wal-Mart upped their order tremendously after the attacks and the author became a frequent guest on Today and various radio programs. He had just published another book at the time, Ten Talks... About Drugs and Choices. "Comparatively, and not surprisingly, that book got short shrift because of events," reports O'Neill.) After a few months, says Brennan, demand for these more heightened-awareness books dropped, and customers returned to the topics that are usually the most pressing for parents--discipline, sleeping, eating, potty-training. "These subjects always do well," Brennan says.

Another title that may well prove helpful in the wake of terrorist attacks is Your Anxious Child: How Parents and Teachers Can Relieve Anxiety in Children, published in February by Jossey Bass, a Wiley company. According to the publisher, authors John S. Dacey and Lisa B. Fiore offer "a four-step program to help children take control of their excessive anxiety." Excessive anxiety is also the focus of Terrorism and Kids: Comforting Your Child by Fern Reiss, published last fall by Peanut Butter and Jelly Press.

From a publisher's perspective, September 11 left parents thinking more than ever about their children's emotional and moral well-being, reports publicist Lissa Warren at Perseus, which has two new titles that address these concerns. Right from Wrong: Instilling a Sense of Integrity in Your Child (Apr.), says marketing director Elizabeth Carduff, deals not just with education per se but with subtle ethical issues that are "harder to wrap your hands around." She notes that authors Michael Riera and Joseph Di Prisco have been booked on NPR's Diane Rehm Show and Parent's Journal. Coming in July is The Secure Child: Helping Children Feel Safe and Confident in a Changing World by Stanley I. Greenspan, who wrote the book after the terrorist attacks, says Carduff, although "the content isn't just terrorism but how to deal with everything dramatic and violent and upsetting children have had handed to them in recent years."

Segueing from the moral realm into more spiritual themes, Katrina Kenison's Mitten Strings from God (Warner), which has sold nearly 80,000 copies in hardcover in the two years since its publication, makes its debut this month in paper. Billed as "an inspirational wake-up call" for busy parents who want to nurture their children's souls and have their own souls nurtured too, the book might well find an even more receptive audience than when it first appeared. Debra Rienstra's Great with Child: Reflections on Faith, Fullness, and Becoming a Mother (Putnam/Tarcher, Apr.) offers expectant parents a spirit-infused view of the world, while child psychiatrist Eve Dreyfus offers 25 inspirational ideas for raising gentle and loving children in Graceful Parenting (Celestial Arts, May).

Dads Have Their Day

Another recent concern is fathers and their importance in their children's lives. According to Julie Jayne, v-p of sales, marketing and distribution at Cumberland House in Nashville, Tenn., "There seems to be a nationwide movement afoot to not only increase the visibility of the father in their children's early life, but also to prove the absolute psychological benefits of such interaction." Out this month from Cumberland House is Why a Daughter Needs a Dad by Greg Lang. "Since we began marketing this book," reports Jayne, "we've found a whole new avenue for promotion and even sales through the National Initiative on Fatherhood and other similar organizations." Another April title in this vein is Daddyhood: This Changes Everything! (Sorin Books) by first-time author (and four-child pop) Dan Driscoll.

In Minneapolis, bookseller Susan Hoch at Oleanna Books, which specializes in books on child development and family relations, remarks that she's also seen a lot of interest in fathers, with newsletters and fathering groups becoming more common in her area. Her favorite book on the subject, Hoch tells PW, is Fatherneed: Why Father Care Is as Important as Mother Care for Your Child by Kyle D. Pruett (Free Press); her favorite childcare title overall is Becoming the Parent You Want to Be: A Sourcebook of Strategies for the First Five Years by Laura Davis and Janis Keyser (Broadway). It isn't "right" or rigid, she says, but "it covers sleep issues, toileting, thumbsucking, all in a personal way. It's encouraging and supportive and inclusive."

Another trend Hoch has noticed is customers who bring to parenting the kind of professionalism that others bring to the workplace. "Usually it's the moms," Hoch says. "They have gone through grad school and have degrees and have decided to stay home. But they're used to striving. They want the right schedules, scripts and methods--they want the right books. There are a bunch that might meet their interests, but I don't think you use a parenting book like a bible. You glean what you can from it." Carduff at Perseus agrees. "The new generation of parents is looking for help in every slice of the parenting process, every part of the pregnancy and childhood development. They buy multiple books. They're consumed by the need for information."

A couple of new titles might be good additions to the shelves of these driven, "professional" parents, if only because of the rigor of the tomes' authority and the thoroughness of their contents. The Yale Child Study Center Guide to Understanding Your Child: Healthy Development from Birth to Adolescence by Linda C. Mayes and Donald J. Cohen is a practical resource from the Yale Child Study Center, which was founded in 1911 by noted child expert Arnold Gesell. This just-published Little, Brown title, which focuses on physical, cognitive, emotional and social areas, seems sure to satisfy the most demanding customers.

Another authoritative title is The Children's Hospital Guide to Your Child's Health and Development by Alan Wolfe, Howard Shane and Margaret Kenna, an 800-page volume appearing for the first time in paper in October (Perseus). The book covers health issues, behavior and psychological development. "It's like having several books in one," says Carduff. "For us it's a renewable marketing campaign. We can tap into the flu season in the fall, back-to-school inoculations or evergreen issues like discipline or toilet training." The book sold over 20,000 copies in hardcover, helped by direct-mail campaigns and strong conference presence.

Not so hefty but a good choice for displaced "professionals" is A Good Start in Life: Understanding Your Child's Brain and Behavior by Norbert Herschkowitz and Elinore Chapman (Joseph Henry Press, May), a doctor-educator team. "After reading this book," says publicist Robin Pinnel, "parents will no longer worry about missing special 'windows' of opportunity or deal with lingering doubts about the 'right' way or the 'best' way to bring up their child."

Stay-at-home parents who really miss the workplace might consider the ideas set forth in Roni Jay's Family Matters: Parenting Tips from the Business World, just published by Seattle's Parenting Press, which promises to improve family relationships using techniques that are used in business. The book talks about "incentives" and "feedback" and "selling" your ideas to your kids when they disagree with you. For this title, says Clare Loughlin, the publisher's assistant, the press will utilize marketing techniques they learned two years ago when they published The Way I Feel and offered e-mail press kits (viewable at

Teens Are Tops

Perhaps the most frequent trend mentioned by publishers and booksellers is the growing number of books about teens. "A huge, $140-billion teenage economy has emerged, and along with it, intense media interest in all things teenage," says Sandy Jasmer, publicity director at Harbor Press in Gig Harbor, Wash. "Publishers putting two and two together--teen-related spending and the teen-hungry media--are seeing new opportunities for teen parenting books."

Harbor's Yes, Your Teen Is Crazy: Loving Your Kid Without Losing Your Mind by psychologist Michael Bradley is Harbor's first foray into parenting, but they have signed the author up for three more books, including a follow-up volume addressed to teenagers. Yes, Your Teen Is Crazy appeared last August but was "grounded" in the aftermath of September 11; once the author's tour resumed, sales picked up, and there are now 30,000 copies of the book in print. "We were able to resurrect the tour a couple of weeks later by pitching Dr. Bradley as an expert who could talk to parents about the impact of September 11 on their children," says Jasmer.

At Perigee Books, publisher John Duff attributes the opening of the parenting-teen market to leaders such as Mary Pipher and Michael Gurian, "whose books were primarily narrative rather than prescriptive" as they looked at the gender-based learning styles of girls and boys respectively. The groundwork laid by those authors is further cultivated in several new titles. One, school psychologist JoAnn Deak and Teresa Barker's Girls Will Be Girls: Raising Confident and Courageous Daughters (Hyperion, Aug.), offers solutions to the issues and problems Pipher raised in Reviving Ophelia.

Clinical psychologist Roni Cohen-Sandler clearly digs the teen argot, as evidenced by the title of her just-released Viking book, "Trust Me Mom--Everyone Else Is Going!" The New Rules for Mothering Adolescent Girls. (Her 1999 Viking title also reflected teenspeak: "I'm not Mad, I Just Hate You!" A New Understanding of Mother-Daughter Conflict.) In an August Riverhead title, All Girls: Single-Sex Education and Why It Matters, journalist Karen Stabiner argues that leaving the opposite sex out of the equation is beneficial at certain stages.

Other teen titles include Perigee's Stop Negotiating with Your Teen by Janet Sasson Edgette (Aug.), which explores peacemaking techniques for parents who don't know where to turn or what to do with their sullen, withdrawn, sarcastic child. Just out in trade paperback from Three Rivers is Raising Emotionally Intelligent Teenagers: Guiding the Way for Compassionate, Committed, Courageous Adults by Maurice J. Elias et al. Next month HarperCollins will publish Unhappy Teenagers: A Way for Parents and Teachers to Reach Them by William Glasser, a first-time author who has spent many years counseling parents of troubled teens. And from Workman comes Teenagers Learn What They Live: Parenting to Inspire Integrity and Connection, by Dorothy Law Nolte and Rachel Harris, a follow-up volume to Children Learn What They Live, which sold nearly half a million copies in the U.S. and many more abroad. Says publicist Kate Tyler, "There is an increasing awareness that teens need not just structure and rules, but moral guidance every bit as much as younger children."

Pipher and Gurian themselves both have books that will appear shortly. Gurian, in addition to last fall's companion book The Wonder of Girls: Understanding the Hidden Nature of Our Daughters (PB Press) has written a new work, The Soul of the Child (PB Press, Nov.), in which he urges that we consider children not as economic entities but as "souls of divine intention." And Pipher's landmark study, Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls, is about to make its first appearance in a mass market edition (Ballantine, Oct.).

Growing Needs, Growing Categories

Duff at Perigee also makes a point about the growing importance of special needs books. The publisher, he says, is building a library of books geared to help parents of children with such maladies as sensory integration dysfunction, ADD, nonverbal learning disorder and dyslexia, and marketing them on the Internet to niche groups of concerned parents. "It is part of a huge underground network of parents, educators and health care professionals that we have been able to tap into for these subjects." Out this month from Perigee is Rondalyn Varney Whitney's Bridging the Gap: Raising a Child with Nonverbal Learning Disorder, a practical guide for constructing a supportive environment for children with this neurological deficit that prevents them from understanding nonverbal cues like tone of voice and facial expression. Due in September is The Gift of Learning by Ronald B. Davis and Eldon M. Braun, a follow-up to the authors' The Gift of Dyslexia and based on the Davis Dyslexia Method to provide perspective on common learning disabilities faced by parents and teachers.

Rodale is also pleased to be tapping into the special needs market. "We've published large reference works but we're moving into very specific problems," reports senior editor in the women's health group Lou Cinquino, who's in charge of the parenting initiative. He cites as an example The Secret Life of the Dyslexic Child: How He Thinks. How She Feels. How They Can Succeed by Robert Frank with Kathryn E. Livingston (Oct.). "The book is narrowly focused and relevant only for a few," he says, "but it is a fascinating look into their life that will help parents of children with learning disabilities understand them, and from there they can help them. Other books just jump right in without putting parents in their kids' shoes. But without understanding your child you will be only partly successful."

Gary Krebs, director of publishing at Adams Media, mentions another trend: later marriages, later births and different questions about pregnancy. "There are more health issues involved," he tells PW. For this growing market Adams has just published Carol Winkelman's Complete Guide to Pregnancy After 30, an 800-page reference work that examines every facet of the experience. Before publication, says Krebs, there was much talk about what age to note in the title. "The book wasn't going to parents who are 21, or even 30. It could be 40 or more, and the point of discussion was whether 30 was the right age." His personal feeling is, probably not: he expects it to be revised upward in a couple of years.

Meanwhile, Workman's What to Expect When You're Expecting by Heidi Murkoff, Arlene Eisenberg and Sandee Hathaway continues to dominate the market. The third edition, completely revamped and updated--with more about midwives, fathers, new positions, hospital accommodations and sensible weight gain suggestions--is due this month, the first revision since 1991, along with the authors' What to Expect Pregnancy Planner. And Workman recently contracted for three new books in the series: two parenting books that apply the same format to children five to 10 and then teens, and a handbook for babysitters, nannies and other caregivers. The series has sold 20 million copies to date.

Debuting at just about the same time--and going head-to-head with them--are the latest in Perseus's Your Pregnancy Week by Week series: Bouncing Back After Your Pregnancy: What You Need to Know About Recovering from Labor and Delivery and Caring for Your New Family (Apr.) by Glade Curtis and Judith Schuler, and Your Pregnancy Journal Week by Week (May). The books will be heavily promoted with a dedicated series Web site, direct-mail campaign to physicians, a major online campaign, national print advertising and point-of-sale material. Sales for the series are up to two million total.

Hearing from Smaller Presses

At the more grassroots end of the spectrum, the California-based EquiLibrium Press is about to publish the first in a series of stepparent guides, The Stepmom's Guide to Simplifying Life by Karon Phillips Goodman (May). (Next up, The Stepmom's Guide to the Ex-Wife.) "Until I received the proposal, I had not been aware of the unique issues and stresses that stepfamilies face," says publisher Susan D. Goland. "This is an enormous and underserved audience --nearly one in three new marriages, according to a recent Census Bureau report. Many new stepmothers don't realize what they're getting into until they find themselves overwhelmed by the relationships, pressures and scheduling conflicts they must grapple with every day." EquiLibrium, which is dedicated to books that "inspire and inform" in the women's niche, will concentrate on Internet marketing initially, Goland says. "As a micro press, our promotion budget is relatively limited, so we will utilize the author's online presence in the stepparenting field." Then, in a model favored by other publishers, they will reach out to family therapists, social workers, clergy and other professionals who deal with divorced and remarried couples as well as to stepparenting organizations like the Stepfamily Association of America, which has local chapters all over the country. One further promotion plan involves a grassroots campaign "commissioned" from the 27 contributors to the first-person stories sprinkled throughout the text. "The idea is to harness their enthusiasm into word-of-mouth promotion," Goland says.

Built-in constituencies are also the mainstay of the publicity campaign planned by attorney-activist Pete Wright and psychotherapist Pam Wright, whose latest book, Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy--The Special Education Survival Guide (Harbor House Law Press, May), addresses the problems that confront the nearly seven million disabled children in the U.S. who receive special education services. The Wrights launched the book with a cruise whose participants included parents, advocates and attorneys, each of whom received an advance copy of the book at the on-ship seminars. The Wrights' first book, Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, sold more than 20,000 copies via the Virginia-based house.

Special Sales Opportunities

Big or small, nearly every publisher mentions the important role special sales play in this category.

"Educational catalogues, school catalogues--we depend on these," says Newmarket publisher Esther Margolis, who last year began branding Newmarket's parenting titles under the cover logo "A Newmarket Parenting Guide." Newmarket made its mark with Lynda Madaras's What's Happening to My Body series (more than a million copies in print and more titles in the works, including, in 2003, a What's Happening to My Body for the next age group down, i.e., third and fourth graders). Margolis says she looks for "distinctive titles that offer unique guidance and a point of view," and then explores every opportunity to sell them. One such book, Kids and Sports: Everything You and Your Child Need to Know About Sports, Physical Activity and Good Health: A Doctor's Guide for Parents (Aug.) by Eric Small, a pediatric sports doctor, will be pitched to the many corporations that are involved with sports markets. Another, a new edition of The Totally Awesome Money Book for Kids (And Their Parents) by Adriane G. Berg and Arthur Berg Bochner, first published nearly 10 years ago, will be angled toward financial institutions. "Banks have used the money book, which is aimed at 10- to 15-year-olds, as a premium and to get kids to open bank accounts," Margolis tells PW. "When it first came out not many schools were teaching money education. It was ahead of its time. There is more interest now in practical things for parents and young kids."

At the Minnesota-based Book Peddlers, a niche childcare press run by Family Circle columnist Vicki Lansky, no opportunity for special sales or promotions is overlooked. Period: A Girl's Guide by JoAnn Loulan and Bonnie Worthen, is licensed to pediatric nurse practitioners. Lansky's Koko Bear's Big Earache: Preparing Your Child for Ear Tube Surgery, is marketed to ENTs who do that kind of surgery. Because divorce education is mandated by the courts, Lansky sends a mailer for her book Vicki Lansky's Divorce Book for Parents: Helping Children Cope with Divorce and Its Aftermath to lawyers, mediators, court services and therapists, making sure they're aware as well of the companion book for children, It's Not Your Fault, Koko Bear (and its Spanish-language edition, Koko Oso, No Es Tu Culpa). For Welcoming Your Second Baby and its companion book for kids, Koko Bear's House, both by Lansky, she stays in close contact with organizations that sponsor childbirth classes. Dear Babysitter Handbook, just out in a revised edition, sells into babysitting classes. "Thanks to PGW, we always have a bookstore market," Lansky says, "but one half of our business depends on special markets. And fortunately," she adds, "having babies is a continuing trend."

So, happily, is buying books. "When people buy a book," says Krebs at Adams Media, "they feel they are accomplishing something. They feel as though their problem's solved, even if they never read the book, but just take it home. By virtue of doing nothing, they feel better. It's a very subtle thing: 'Look what I've done. I've bought the book!' This is particularly true about childcare books, because parents today are so busy they don't have time for major counseling or rethinking their entire lives, and they hope perhaps a book can solve their problems fast."

See if that helps the crying baby.