I’ve been talking a lot about Young Adult literature lately but thought I’d stop and take some time to dig a little deeper into Middle Grade and help explain what it is and some series I enjoy.
Some people out there may be scratching their heads about now saying “What the heck is Middle Grade literature? Books for middle grade students? Novels with sub par writing?” No, it’s not either of those two thing.
Middle Grade (MG) literature, often grouped with YA lit, are novels that are aimed at readers aged 9 to 12. While there is no set word count to a typical MG novel, they do tend to be shorter than YA work geared towards the older teen. I could mention (and probably will further down) several series where that is not the case.
One of the main differences between the MG and the YA is that the MG protagonist is more inward thinking, coming to terms with themselves, focusing on coming puberty, etc. whereas YA lit has their main characters trying to fit into the world and how they are affected by external situations rather than internal.
I don’t believe any novel with sexual content are allowed to be considered MG. Violence is more acceptable but it won’t be graphic or in detail. Think of the type of violence portrayed in the Harry Potter books. It’s there but not described as all blood and gore. Middle Grade novels can have a romantic aspect, but it won’t be central to the plot like it often is in YA literature. It’ll probably be more in the form of a crush and hand holding. The protagonist will be young, but probably slightly older than the average MG reader. I also think, unlike YA lit, you’ll find that parents will be more visible in many of the stories.
Some of my favorite MG literature (Check it out for yourself or your kids!):
The Inkheart Trilogy – Cornelia Funk
Gregor the Overlander – Suzanne Collins
Dragon Slippers series – Jessica Day George
Leviathan , Behemoth & Goliath – Scott Westerfeld
Zombie Tag – Hannah Moskowitz
Percy Jackson series – Rick Riordan
The Kane Chronicles – Rick Riordan
Young Samurai series – Chris Bradford
The Hallow Kingdom – Clare B. Dunkle
Also, here are some other great articles about what MG is and the difference between MG & YA:
How to write Middle Grade fiction by Karen Pokras Toz who is the author of the MG Nate Rocks series.
Middle Grade, what is it?
It’s a thin line between Middle Grad and Young Adult
Dale Robert Pease author of the MG Noah Zarc series, recommended a bunch of great vlogs from Literary Agent Kristen Nelson:
The difference between Middle Grade and Young Adult Literature
Talking Middle Grade