Shares of Scholastic (SCHL) climbed nearly 12% to a new 52-week high after the children’s book publisher revealed third-quarter sales and earnings that topped Wall Street views, led by the success of The Hunger Games trilogy.

Revenue for the three-month period was $467 million, up 22% from $384.3 million a year ago, sharply trumping the Street’s view of $393 million.

The improvement was driven by a 27% increase in children’s book publishing and distribution sales, led by demand for The Hunger Games.

“We were especially delighted by the success of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games trilogy, yet another Scholastic-published global phenomenon with a large crossover readership by adults,” Scholastic CEO Richard Robinson said in a statement.

Sales of the series reached a high during the quarter, ahead of next week’s highly anticipated movie premiere.

Scholastic booked sales increases across all segments but its class and supplemental materials publishing group, which fell slightly to $38.2 million from $43.1 million the year earlier.

The New York-based company reported a loss of $3.2 million, or 10 cents a share, compared with a year-earlier loss of $25.1 million, or 81 cents. But excluding one-time items, the company lost just 9 cents, widely ahead of average analyst estimates of a 70-cent loss.

The solid improvement led Scholastic to increase its outlook for fiscal 2012, now anticipating earnings of $2.60 to $2.90 on sales of $2 billion. Analysts on average are looking for a smaller profit and sales of $1.95 a share and $1.94 billion.

The publisher’s board declared a quarterly cash dividend of 12.5 cents for the fourth quarter, payable on June 15 to shareholders of record on April 30.

Follow Jennifer Booton on Twitter at @Jbooton