Children’s books written by celebrities

What do Greg James, Channing Tatum and Meghan Markle have in common? While these celebrities may seem poles apart, they’ve all embarked on the same side hustle, which is quickly becoming one of the most crowded celebrity careers. All of these famous names have written on paper to become published children’s authors.

The UK is estimated to publish approximately 200,000 books a year, 10,000 of which are children’s books, according to University College London. And while these numbers show that the book industry is booming, why do so many celebrities who are already hugely successful (and well-paid) in their own careers bother to take time out of their busy schedules to write a bedtime story?

It all becomes a little less surprising when you take a quick look at the king of celebrity children’s books: David Walliams. The former Britain’s Got Talent judge published his debut book The Boy in the Dress in 2008. He was by no means the first celebrity to put his name to a children’s book, but he became an overnight literary success history.

The book, illustrated by much-loved children’s illustrator Quentin Blake, quickly became a UK number one bestseller and was hailed as a literary winner. His next book Mr Stink came out in 2009, followed by Billionaire Boy in 2010 and Gangsta Granny in 2011, making Williams the UK’s fastest growing children’s author, selling an average of 20,000 books per week, according to BookTrust.

Now, more than a decade later, Walliams has published 25 children’s books and celebrated more than 180 weeks at the top of the children’s book charts. To put that into perspective, not even Harry Potter author JK Rowling can claim that accolade.

From comedian and actor to not only the UK’s highest-grossing children’s author, but one of the highest-grossing authors overall, it’s no surprise that other celebrities want a piece of Walliams’ hugely lucrative pie. One that Metro says is worth over £100m and sees him pocket over £18m a year. So, is it all because of money that so many of these celebrities are picking up the pen and writing children’s books?

“It offers a really valuable way to build a celebrity’s personal brand within an audience and space where they might not have had much of a foothold before.”

Talent manager and co-founder of Diving Bell Group Kim Butler says it’s much more than just a cash injection. “These days, to stay relevant long-term as a celebrity, you have to build a brand,” she tells POPSUGAR. “If a celebrity has the right type and size of audience and – ideally – they also have children of their own, it can make a lot of sense for them to explore writing children’s books. Children’s literature can be an incredibly lucrative market, but more importantly, it offers a really valuable way to build a celebrity’s personal brand within an audience and space where they might not have had much of a foothold before.”

Additionally, if their books do well, there are also opportunities for spinoffs, book-to-TV shows, and franchises that can be capitalized on with the children’s book market. “If their books become successful, celebrities become branded authors in the children’s book market and are then able to publish multiple books under that brand. It can lead to a lot of book deals, which is good money, but it also allows the next step to happen,” continues Butler. “That would be to explore other areas of opportunity, for example live shows, merchandise and children’s TV , all of which offer high financial payoff and keep that celebrity relevant and in the public eye.”

Celebrities also have the added benefit of often having a large following, which makes for a marketing dream. “The more successful their books are, the bigger the advance can be negotiated because the publisher knows there’s minimal risk,” she says. “If a celebrity already has a name that people know, that interests publishers, and if they can really write, it can be a match made in heaven.” Publishers rely on their books being marketed and when they team up with a celebrity, most of the marketing is through the celebrity’s own channels, their Instagram and TiKTok, and this large and incredibly engaged audience is key to success of their book sales.”

From the Spice Girl to the leading star of Magic Mike, read on for some amazing celebrities who have written children’s books.

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