“What Are Middle Grade Novels?” by Joan Y. Edwards
Read Kristi Holl’s Right-Writing.com article “Writing the Middle Grade Novel” http://www.right-writing.com/middle-grade.html. She is an instructor for The Institute of Children’s Literature. It gives a good comprehensive overview of what Middle Grade Novels are. I read a lot of posts. Her explanation was simple and clear. It was the best one that I read.
After reading all of the sources below, I combined their knowledge and mine to give you a good idea to answer the question, “What are Middle Grade Novels?”
Criteria for Middle Grade Novels
- Written for 8-12 years old – Grades 3, 4, 5, 6
- 30,000 -45,000 (120 – 180 pages) pages may vary.
- Chapters 7-10 pages each (may vary)
- Unlimited Chapters
- Contains Words with any number of syllables.
- Any structure of sentences
- Episodes stand on their own in each chapter and lead up to a big crescendo at the end.
- Strong Voice
Main Character in Middle Grade Novel
- experiences problems with school, friends, neighborhood, siblings, pets, and people in authority
- realizes that adults make mistakes, including his own parents
- leans more heavily on opinions and advice of friends, rather than parents.
- his parents may be missing from the story or not needed to make the story believable
- may be opinionated and doesn’t think there’s any room for people to have a different opinion from his. (I believe it might be a good time to teach him debating skills.)
Middle Grade Students
- want to please
- worry about being wrong or doing it wrong.
- place things in an all right or all wrong category.
- want to belong
- show interest in opposite sex by teasing, joking, and showing off.
- sometimes verbally abusive of classmates: name-calling and nasty put-downs.
- learn how to handle bullying.
Middle Grade Students Enjoy
- rules, rituals, routine
- hobbies that develop interests and talents like music, art, dance, sports
Anita Gurian, Ph.D. and Alice Pope, Ph.D. say “They (kids) learn how to set up rules, how to weigh alternatives and make decisions when faced with dilemmas. They experience fear, anger, aggression and rejection. They learn how to win, how to lose, what’s appropriate, what’s not. They learn about social standing and power – who’s in, who’s out, how to lead and how to follow, what’s fair and what’s not.”
Examples of Middle Grade Novels
- A. J. Jacobs, New York Times 8-21-2011. “Children’s Books about Troublemakers.” http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/21/books/review/childrens-books-about-troublemakers-by-a-j-jacobs.html
- Amazon Best Selling Middle Grade Books http://www.amazon.com/Best-Selling-Middle-Grade-Books/lm/R2AL2X6JQP1G7L
- American Library Association. Newbery Medal and Honor Books. http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia/newberymedal/newberyhonors/newberymedal
- Children’s Books about Troublemakers by A. J. Jacobs, New York Times 8-21-2011 http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/21/books/review/childrens-books-about-troublemakers-by-a-j-jacobs.html
- Good Reads.com “684 Popular Middle Grade Fiction Titles http://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/middle-grade-fiction
- Linda Jo Martin. “Newbery Medal Award Winners.”
http://www.squidoo.com/newberymedal. Has book images and summary.
- Seira Wilson. “Best Children’s Middle Grade Books of the Year.” http://www.omnivoracious.com/2011/11/best-childrens-middle-grade-books-of-the-year.html
And if you want to use a writing course to help you write a middle grade novel, check out Suzanne Lieurance, Children’s Author, Writing Coach. “Write a Middle Grade Novel in ONE Month!” Workshop $49.97.” She has listed the steps to write a Middle Grade Novel. Step by step. http://workingwriterscoach.com/?p=5336
1. About.com. Children’s Books Top Picks “Historical Fiction for Middle Grade Readers:” http://childrensbooks.about.com/od/toppicks/tp/Award-Winning-Historical-Fiction-For-Middle-Grade-Readers.htm
2. A. J. Jacobs, New York Times 8-21-2011. “Children’s Books about Troublemakers” by http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/21/books/review/childrens-books-about-troublemakers-by-a-j-jacobs.html
3. Amazon Best Selling Middle Grade Books http://www.amazon.com/Best-Selling-Middle-Grade-Books/lm/R2AL2X6JQP1G7L
4. Anita Gurian, Ph.D. and Alice Pope, Ph.D. “Do Kids Need Friends.” http://www.aboutourkids.org/articles/do_kids_need_friends
5. Babette Reeves, the Passionate Librarian. “Middle Grade or Young Adult: What’s the difference?” http://babetter.wordpress.com/2009/08/21/middle-grade-or-young-adult-whats-the-difference/
6. Barnes & Noble. New York Bestsellers Middle Grade and Young Adult Books http://www.barnesandnoble.com/u/childrens-books-ny-times-bestsellers-chapter-books/379001074/
7. E-How. “How to Write a Children’s Chapter Book.”
8. Good Reads.com “684 Popular Middle Grade Fiction Titles http://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/middle-grade-fiction
9. Kristi Holl, Right-Writing.com. “Writing the Middle Grade Novel” http://www.right-writing.com/middle-grade.html
10. Kristi Holl. Writer’s First Aid Blog: http://institutechildrenslit.net/Writers-First-Aid-blog/about-kristi-holl/
11. Laura Backes, Children’s Book Insider. “The Difference Between Middle Grade & Young Adult: “http://www.write4kids.com/feature6.html
12. Linda Jo Martin. “Newbery Medal Award Winners.” http://www.squidoo.com/newberymedal. Has book images and summary.
13. Mindy Alyse Weiss. “What Makes a Middle Grade Novel Timeless”
14. Scholastic “Timeless Kids’ Chapter Books.” http://www.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=7935
15. Seira Wilson. “Best children’s Middle Grade Books of the Year.” http://www.omnivoracious.com/2011/11/best-childrens-middle-grade-books-of-the-year.html
16. Suzanne Lieurance, Children’s Author, Writing Coach. “Write a Middle Grade Novel in ONE Month!” Workshop $49.97.” Has steps to writing a Middle Grade Novel. Step by step. http://workingwriterscoach.com/?p=5336
Wow! It’s a bunch to get a handle on, but step by step, we’ll make it. I recommend checking out about 25 of these Middle Grade Novels and compare them with the ideas on this page. You may find they coincide with the ideas on this page. You may find ideas that disagree with my findings. Be true to your characters and their voice from within. The editors will decide where it goes. Make your best guess.
I hope that this helps you understand what makes a Middle Grade Novel. Ask me questions. Give me answers. Tell me your favorite Middle Grade Novel. What’s missing from my criteria? I’ll do “What are Young Adult Novels?” next in this Genre series.
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Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards