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.
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