After defining what middle grade is and isn’t, the next question is, why write middle grade fiction? If you’re writing for the children’s market today, the allure of writing for young adults can be strong. Heavy hitters like Twilight and The Hunger Games have shown how young adult fiction can hit the best seller lists and be read by adults and young adults alike. Compared to that, middle grade fiction might seem overshadowed.
But think back to the books that impacted you the most as a kid. Although I remember some wonderful picture books, and I’m sure I read plenty as a young adult, the stories that captured me the most were the ones I read from ages 9-13.
Mary Kole says in Writing Irresistible Kidlit, “when you’re this age, you’re finding a place in the world without straying too far from the comforts of childhood…During this time, you start to make tough choices and wrong choices, and pay the consequences of your actions and decisions.”
This age is such a critical one, perhaps even more than the teenage years for our current generation, who are confronting these choices at a younger age. Middle grade writing gives uncertain kids a safe place to venture out and explore, characters to recognize themselves in, and stories that help walk out some of the choices they’re facing. And these stories don’t have to take place in a contemporary context.
Middle graders, or tweens, still easily make the jump from reality to fantasy. A story like Savvy, about a girl who comes into her magical power on her 13th birthday, or Harry Potter, who discovers he’s a wizard when he’s eleven, speak just as strongly to tweens as any modern day story. Kids reading Caroline Starr Rose’s May B. see the young protagonist facing similar emotions they’re experiencing, even as May overcomes the struggles of homesteading on the Kansas prairie.
If you want to write and read great stories and impact the lives of young readers, middle grade is where it’s at.
What was your favorite book from your middle grade years?