I Re-Discovered a Love for Middle-Grade Books, and You Should Too!

I have noticed since I started book blogging that many (dare I say most?) book bloggers read and enjoy young adult novels. Just because a book is written for teens doesn’t mean adults can’t enjoy it, we say! These books tend to have quick pacing and cool concepts that nab our attention, and the writing is rarely too dense and literary. Just because they’re YA doesn’t mean they don’t have great themes and metaphor and the ability to say something about what it means to be human. And so we uplift these books as equally worthy of anyone’s time as “adult” books.

Yet, fewer bloggers do this for middle grade books.

Why? Many of the same arguments can be made for them. Just because a book is written for kids doesn’t mean adults can’t enjoy them! They tend to have quick pacing and cool concepts that grab your attention, and the writing is never too dense and literary. Just because they’re MG doesn’t mean they don’t have great themes and metaphor and the ability to say something about what it means to be human. So why do so few book bloggers read them?

One thing I’ve heard lately is “I would if I knew about those books, but nobody talks about them.” So it sounds like people rely on other bloggers to tell them about books, and since bloggers aren’t talking about MG books nobody reads them. I don’t really believe that, if I’m being honest with you all. I think the truth, if you took the time to self-reflect and examine, is that bloggers are less interested in middle grade books.

Maybe they think they’ll be too simple or come off as baby-ish. Perhaps they’re concerned they can’t relate to a middle-grade protagonist, that they’re too far removed from that life experience. Or maybe, just maybe, that ageist genre snobbery has subconsciously affected us more than we realize and we secretly feel that middle grade books “don’t count.”

That was the case for me. I didn’t have anything against middle grade books and I loved Rick Riordan, but in general I just wasn’t interested. Those books are for kids, how could I possibly enjoy them? Then I took a Children’s and Young Adult’s Literature Class and I fell in love with middle grade books.

They’re so easy to relate to.
Just as reading YA books reminds me what it was like to be a teen, reading middle grade books really connects me to my inner child. The emotions kids experience and the things they struggle with are so universal. And just because I’m not ten anymore doesn’t mean I don’t still deal with these things.

They tend to be empowering.
Seriously, you want to feel inspired, pick up a middle grade book. A really common theme is the protagonist learning to take control of their own life, that even the smallest person can change the course of the future. (Thanks Tolkien) While I think this is an essential message for kids, it is just as important for us to hear that we can change our own lives.

The writing is OUTSTANDING.
I just don’t even know what to say. The Middle Grade books I’m reading are regularly some of the best books I’ve ever read for any age group. I think the authors are forced to get their writing to its purest, simplest form, and that really lends itself to some gorgeous writing. The dialogue is always realistic, the descriptions always vivid, and the reading experience smooth. All of this is done to scaffold kids as they are still learning to read, but it makes the books darn GOOD.

Books about animals!!!
Why is this not a thing for YA and adult books? I want to read ALL OF THE BOOKS from an animal’s point-of-view. Seriously, these are often my very favorite books.

When they’re funny, they’re hilarious.
I think it’s because we’re just trying desperately to entice reluctant readers, but there are so many funny MG books. And y’all, it’s not like YA and adult books where it’s like, oh that book was pretty funny. No, the main purpose of the book is humor. And they’re so funny! Maybe it’s because I just really like kid humor, lol.

They’re so in touch with their emotions.
Again, this is intentional on the part of authors who are striving to teach kids to recognize and learn to handle their emotions. The result is that these books are easy to connect to emotionally and I almost always cry when I’m reading a MG book.

Recommendations

I challenge everyone reading who hasn’t already to read at least one MG book in 2020. Seriously, they’re short and quick, so if you hate it you won’t have wasted too much time. But I’m sure you’re going to love it. In case you’re not sure where to start, I’m going to offer you one recommendation from each genre.

  • Realistic/Literary Fiction: Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan
  • Humor: Dragonbreath by Ursula Vernon
  • Historical Fiction: Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan
  • Fantasy: The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
  • Science Fiction: The Wild Robot by Peter Brown
  • Mystery: Me, Frida, and the Secret of the Peacock Ring by Angela Cervantes
  • Scary: Nightbooks by J.A. White
  • Animals: The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
  • Graphic Novel: New Kid by Jerry Craft
  • Novel in Verse: Garvey’s Choice by Nikki Grimes

42 thoughts on “I Re-Discovered a Love for Middle-Grade Books, and You Should Too!

  1. I love this post! There does seem to be a stigma against MG in the book blogosphere. Sometimes I will write a review for a MG post, someone will seem interested, and they they will realize the book is MG and decide to give it a pass. I don’t understand. If a book is good, it’s good, regardless of the audience!

    I’ve also become convinced there are a good deal of YA books hiding out under the MG label. Most YA is written for 16+. If you are looking for books for the 13+ crowd, like Percy Jackson, they’re probably being called “upper middle-grade” instead of YA. But the label deters people who would otherwise read those books.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Agreed! I feel like MG includes a pretty huge range of kids. 10 year olds are *super* different from 14 year olds, but they’re all considered “middle grade”. That’s one of the reasons I put maturity levels in my reviews is to help clarify that sort of thing. And a lot of middle grade books have themes that YA readers would enjoy, but might be “easier” for a struggling reader.

      I understand why people don’t want to read Middle Grade, because I used to be that way too. But I think that comes from a poor understanding of what middle grade books are like. They’re not all Charlotte’s Web anymore!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a fantastic post, and really excellent points! I am in my 30s and I still read/love YA books, but I do rarely reach for those “kid books” and honestly, I have no idea why! I feel like some of them would be perfect when I just need a quick read or when I’m going through a reading slump and don’t want to dive into anything heavy or cumbersome but I still want to enjoy a good story.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Nightbooks has a GORGEOUS cover. It sounds really good too so I just added it to my TBR! I’ve also seen the One and Only Ivan floating around. I didn’t realize it was about animal characters! That’s super cool. I need to check that out too. I really like Middle Grade when I need to read something light and easy. Such great recommendations 😀

    Amber @ Escape Life in the Pages

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The One and Only Ivan I think just got a movie, which is why maybe you’ve been seeing it around? The sequel is out recently too. Oh my goodness, just BRILLIANT. Read it with a box of kleenex.

      Like

  4. I completely agree. People sleep on MG all the time and it’s such a shame to be honest. Some of the best written books I’ve read in the last few years have been MG. I definitely think I need to make more of an effort to promote them in the future though.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. When I was studying for my second bachelor’s degree, I got to read Middle-Grade books for some of my ILS classes and loved reading them. I do have to agree that the writing is outstanding. I think some people have this idea that because the writing is simple, it equates to bad writing, which isn’t the case at all. Middle-grade books are refreshing sometimes. When I was volunteering at a local library (before COVID), I would often find myself browsing the MG stacks and sometimes bring books home.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. YES YES YES! Thank you! Middle grades are so fun to read and they are so well written! What I also like about middle grade books (or at least mostly in the recent ones) is that they touch upon important matters. I’ve read King and the Dragonflies recently and it discussed some major issues. And aah you made me want to finish Percy Jackson sooo badly! The Girl Who Drank the Moon and Amina’s Voice seem so good! Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This has 100% inspired me to read more (and blog more about) middle grade books! Awesome post. I’ve actually been thinking a lot lately about some of my favorites when I was in middle school like “Ella enchanted” and “Lily’s crossings”. I learned so much from many books I read during this age but it’s been such a long time since I reread them that I can’t even remember what I liked about them. I think it’s time to revisit! I always love to see how I pick up on different elements when I reread books.

    Liked by 1 person

          1. I haven’t read The Wish but I do remember reading The Two Princesses of Bamarre and loving it! I think the two books I reread the most back then were Ella Enchanted and Lily’s Crossing by Patricia Reilly Giff. I was obsessed with those two haha

            Liked by 1 person

          2. I just looked it up and I never read that one but I’ve read some of Sharon Creech’s other books. I really liked them! It has a great title too 🙂 sometimes Im guilt of reading a book by its title, not the cover haha

            Liked by 1 person

          3. It’s kind of a companion to Walk Two Moons, which is easily her best known book, but I read Absolutely Normal Chaos first. It was my introduction to diary form books. Why are ten year old girls so into the diary format? lol

            Liked by 1 person

          4. Oh cool. I think I read Walk Two Moons. The name is so familiar but I don’t remember much. Idk! Haha That reminds me of a diary format book I read about two best friends and one of them moved; but I can’t for the life of me remember the name. Ergh I hate it when that happens.

            Liked by 1 person

  8. As a sixth grader myself, personally loved this blog post. So few realize that MG and YA books are so awesome! I definitely think that they’re underrated, and I hope that this post opened up other readers’ eyes to the world of young readers’ literature.

    Liked by 1 person

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