It’s no secret that I’m no longer a child (even though I’ll probably always be a child at heart to a certain degree). And yet, I still love reading books aimed primarily at children. While some people turn their noses up when I mention I love reading middle grade – because of course, finishing a children’s book cannot count the same way as reading a ‘normal’ book, right? – I have found other people my age (or older even, can you believe it?!) who share my love for this genre.
I think during my teenage years, while I gravitated more towards YA and later towards adult books, I stopped reading middle grade altogether for a while. Other books just had more of a gravitational pull, promised to be more thrilling and exciting! But then, I’d say towards the start of my twenties, I started reading middle grade again. I cannot really remember which book it was, but no matter, it must have been really good! Because now, a few years on, I’m a huge fan of the these books and cannot get enough of them! But why is that? What sets middle grade apart from other genres, and what do I love about it? Well, I’m glad you asked:)
But what exactly is middle grade? Well, generally, middle grade books are aimed at readers between the age of eight and twelve. When I used the word “genre” above, I was actually wrong, as middle grade fiction can be any kind of genre – from science fiction to adventure to fantasy to mystery. So, middle grade is actually more of an age-based categorisation that can apply to any genre. However, many people use the term genre for age categories such as MG (short for middle grade) or YA (short for young adult). Interestingly, this almost never happens with fiction aimed at adult readers! Definitely something to think about.
But even though middle grade books can be so widely different and vary in genre and themes, there still are quite a few resemblences among them. Usually, the main characters are of the same age as the intended audience – namely roughly between the ages of eight and twelve (sometimes a little bit older too). The books usually don’t contain too much violence, or if they do, it is rarely graphic. The same goes for romance – which is often limited to crushes and maybe themes like the first kiss. There is often a focus on the protagonist’s friends, family, and important life events that concern them. While middle grade fiction can be incredibly deep, the characters often don’t self-reflect too much but rather deal with matters at hand – and react to them.
So, what is it that I love about these particular books?
- The friendship aspect. It doesn’t really matter what a middle grade book is about, one thing most of them have in common is that there will be a great friendship at the heart of it. Either the protagonist already has a best friend or friend group from the start or they will meet along the way, but you can be sure they won’t stay alone for very long! I love great friendships, the kind where your friend is your family, and you would do anything for them and vice versa – be it in books or reality – and I particularly love the friendships in middle grade. Very rarely are they fake or not supportive, and this real, heartfelt kind of frienship is what I’m here for!
- The importance of family. Sometimes the protagonists don’t have any biological family left or only one relative or so, but even if they ‘only’ have their grandmother left or are taken in by strangers or friends who then become family, you can always feel the strong connections the children feel to them, and I think that’s beautiful. It doesn’t matter if the people you call family are actually related to you or not, what does matter is that they are there for you and you for them. And that is the case in most middle grade fiction!
- Adventure above everything! I think it is safe to say that every middle grade story has some kind of adventure in it – be it a journey to a magical place, a hidden island, dark alleys, the school grounds or a fairy kingdom – you can be sure that it will never get boring. The adventure might also be internal in some cases, but in any case, every book you pick up will take you on an adventure – just lean back and escape the real world for a while!
- Complex issues. Those people who claim middle grade books are boring, childish or shallow couldn’t be more wrong! One of the main reasons I love reading these books is that they are so DEEP – they almost always address some kind of difficult, sensitive, or complicated topic, but do so in a way that makes it easier for every reader to understand and handle them. Grief, identity struggles, war, love, problems of any kind – middle grade often deals with these kinds of topics much better than many adult books I’ve read. Almost no topic, no matter how difficult, is being left out, but these books cover them in a way that makes them accessible to any reader of any age and background.
- They are usually short and quicker to read. And even if they aren’t short, you will still race through them so quickly because they are just so good! If you are working towards completing a reading goal I would highly recommend reading some!
- Everything is possible! Magical worlds behind wardrobes or below the sea, talking animals or grandmas that are witches – nothing is impossible or predictable in a middle grade story, and they will always surprise you!
- They are stunning! Have you looked at the covers of some middle grade books lately? I guarantee you if you are a sucker for pretty covers, they’ve got you covered (pun intended:D). Here are a few of my favourite middle grade books with their gorgeous covers that just promise so much fun and adventure (and that is exactly what you get!).
Do you enjoy reading middle grade literature, or will you give it a try after reading my post? Do come and say hi, and let’s discuss!
Thank you all so much for reading!