It wasn’t that long ago that “children’s” books were pretty much designated into 2 categories: young readers (grade 5 and below) and teens. That left a huge gap of kids in between… too old for Ramona Quimby and too young for Sarah Dessen and Walter Dean Myers. Fortunately, the publishing industry woke up after the Harry Potter phenomenon and realized the need for interesting, relevant, and appropriate books for readers between 4th-9th grades.
Middle grade books know how to push the envelope… while keeping their audience in mind. Sure, Katniss was forced to undergo some violent situations while leading the resistance. And we’ve heard the complaints about George and Dunkin providing insights on the (*gasp*) life of transgender youth. And to think, kids like Mahmoud might give today’s kids the “wrong idea” about Syrian refugees… what might draw no-longer-kids-not-quite-teens to these topics?
As quoted in the NYT, the explosively popular author of Refugee, Alan Gratz, notes, “though some people believe that these are tough subjects for young readers, more and more middle grade readers and choosing to read books that tackle social issues because the social issues have come to them. They’ve been going through active shooter drills. They have refugees and immigrants as classmates. They hear racist and intolerant rhetoric from political leaders on television and on the internet. Middle grade readers are shaping their views of the world right now because the world is forcing them to.”
This month, we urge you to dive into the mayhem that is Middle Grade. Be prepared for drama, social justice, bullying, and besties, and maybe even a first kiss. As usual with #YearofYA, you aren’t confined to a specific book, series or author! Find a book that fits the “Middle Grade” description (a click above juvenile chapters… a click below mature YA) and read away!
A heads up too: The Global Read Aloud kicks off the first week of October. If you’ve not heard of it before, we invite you to explore this amazing program created and hosted by Pernille Ripp. 2 of the titles featured would make fantastic reads for our #YearofYA theme, but also as read alouds for middle grade readers in your life: Amal Unbound and Refugee.
A really great resource for Middle Grade is “From the Mixed Up Files”
Navigating Middle Grade Books – Publishers Weekly
Best Middle Grade of 2018 – Brightly
20 Middle Grade Books You’ll Want to Add to your Classroom – WeAreTeachers
20 Must-Read Middle Grade Books Fall 2018 – Brightly