Middle Grade: Not a Narrow Designation

judy moodyYesterday I posted about writing age appropriate middle grade fiction.  Not only is it made difficult because what one person thinks is age appropriate is completely inappropriate in someone else’s estimation, but “middle grade” covers a really wide audience.

Characters in younger middle grade books are 8 to 10 or 2nd through 4th grade.  An eight year-old is involved in home life but also involved with their friends.  They don’t hang out yet.  They play.

A nine-year old is more likely to seek approval.  They work toward being liked.  Hanging out with friends is a big deal and this is where many of them start to split off – boys with boys and girls with girls.

greenglass houseCharacters in older middle grade books are 10 to 12 years old or 4th through 6th grade.  Ten years-old is where some girls start to have growth spurts.  But not all of them do.  They are also understanding how their behavior affects others.

By twelve?  The girls have “blossomed” and totally left the boys behind.  This may mean treating the boys like little kids.  Skin is also going haywire and many kids start to get self-conscious about their appearance.

Look at my description of a twelve year-old.  Now look at the one for an eight year-old.  There’s a world of difference.  And that’s why middle grade books are so hard to categorize.

Younger middle grade books include the Stink and Judy Moody books as well as Cornelia Funke’s books.  Think fantasy.  Think adventure.  T

Older middle grade titles include Raymie Nightingale by Kate diCamillo, Wonder by R. J. Palacio, Greenglass House by Kate Milford, and The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty.  These characters deal with illness and death.  One or more of them may be in danger.  Remember, these kids are young teens.

This diversity is why it is so important to pin point your audience.  You aren’t going to write a book that appeals to the full range so you need to know who your target reader is.  What’s right, and acceptable, for one won’t be for another.  And that’s okay.  Twelve year-olds and eight year-olds each need their own books.



5 thoughts on “Middle Grade: Not a Narrow Designation

    1. Finding appropriate books for advanced readers is tough. My son simply refused to read a lot that was in his “range” because he wasn’t ready for all the relationship stuff. And I mean the innocent relationship stuff. He just didn’t care. What books does she like?


      1. she like more adult books, so I try to scan to make sure the books are appropriate but I can’t keep up. I’ve found my self going online to see reviews and then giving the okay… She loves reality, drama, magic books or anything about women heroes 🙂

    2. Why it insists in putting this out of order is a mystery but there you have it. That’s a tough gap – 9 reading adult books. Has she read Hidden Figures yet? My sister and niece both really loved that one.

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