What is a Book for Middle Graders?
- Novels or nonfiction for ages 8-12 or 10-14. Lengths can vary from 84-200 pages (novels are usually over 100 pages long), or 20,000-40,000 words. Illustrated nonfiction may have fewer words.
- Characters are children ages 9-14 (average character in middle grade novel is 10-13 years old). Protagonists can also be animals or fantasy creatures. Adults are almost never central characters.
- Stories can be in any genre (mysteries, fantasy, historical, and contemporary are popular), but the central conflict must be relevant to the middle grade reader.
- Characters are focused inward (Who am I? Where do I fit in?), adolescent emotions are dramatic, and concerns with peers, image, gaining independence from parents, making own decisions and developing unique talents are paramount.
- Plots are more complex, with one to three sub-plots that relate to the main action in the story.
- Formats range from journal entries to illustrated novels to stories written in free verse.
- Nonfiction builds on basic knowledge of a subject, and pushes readers to think about their place in the world and develop their own values and opinions.
- Characters grow and change during the book, but are still emotionally and intellectually adolescents at the end.
Are Middle Grade Books Right for You?
- Do you understand the emotional development, life experience and world view of kids on the cusp of adolescence and entering puberty?
- Can you write about the above without letting your adult perspective enter the book?
- Are you tuned in to the conflicts, drama and everyday situations of this age group?
- Can you write convincing dialogue and create unique characters?
- Are you willing to let your characters make mistakes and then learn from what they’ve done?
If you have these skills, or are passionate about developing them, you could be a middle grade writer!
Find some terrific middle grade books to study here: http://www.goodreads.com/award/choice/2011#56609-Best-Middle-Grade-&-Children%27s
3 Responses to “Middle Grade Books 101”
Jean W. Morey
Nice easy and attractive! We’ll done!
Jon and Laura,
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Thanks for such a great site with tons of information that provides the ability to learn and grow as a writer. I appreciate your dedication.
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