Great Middle Grade Reads discussion

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GENERAL DISCUSSIONS > Do you feel Middle Grade isn't seen as hip as Young Adult?

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message 1: by Brian (new)

Brian Clopper Just curious, but how does everyone feel about this topic. I love Middle Grade, but feel it doesn't get the same attention as Young Adult. I like both but find more work fitting my desire for adventure over romance is labeled Middle Grade instead of Young Adult.

As a fifth grader teacher, I populate my class library with more MG than YA simply because I know I won't be exposing my students to material their parents might find not suitable.

Is MG perceived as dependable and lukewarm and YA as sexy and lively?


message 2: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Douglass (rdouglass) | 1667 comments Mod
Well, I think YA IS more sexy. . . in just the ways you don't want in a 5th grade classroom! Seriously, people are more likely to consider MG to be written just for kids, while YA is written at a more or less adult level (I think not really, but for most people close enough). The best MG is accessible to kids without writing down to them, and is great for readers of all ages. I know I much prefer reading MG over YA, partly because of typical subject matter.


message 3: by M.G. (new)

M.G. King (mgking) | 728 comments Check out the thread (five threads below this one) WHAT DEFINES MIDDLE GRADE. We're having a great discussion on this!


message 4: by Bobbi (new)

Bobbi (bobbichukran) It's great to see conversation about this subject here. I'm having a heckuva time deciding whether my new PRINCESS PRIMROSE book is middle grade, tweens or early YAs. Somebody said the "voice" sounds middle grade, which is fine with me. But I do think that YAs are seen as being more marketable (well, duh! LOL), more sexy and maybe even more literary than the MG books. I'll definitely check out the other thread. bobbi c.
PRINCESS PRIMROSE and the CURSE OF THE BIG SLEEP by Bobbi A. Chukran


message 5: by D. Robert (new)

D. Robert Pease (drobertpease) I think it would be interesting to see if there are specific reasons people think there has been such a huge growth in YA over the past few years. It is my understanding that much of it can be attributed to adults reading YA, and not as much the growth in number of young adults reading. If this is the case, why? Why is YA so appealing to adults? Is it the simpler writing style? The more exciting plot-lines? The "clean" romance?

I ask all this to then ask, if YA becomes more steamy, pushing the edge of what YA really is (more into topics that used to be reserved for adult literature,) does that open the door for middle grade? Will MG become the next YA when adults start to look for something more like they were looking for when they started reading YA? I don't know. I just wonder. I love reading MG (granted it is more upper-middle grade, like Percy Jackson, or Leviathan,) mostly because it isn't all about the romance (I'm a guy after all.) It is more about the action, and fun plots. Anyone else have any thoughts on the matter?


message 6: by Brian (new)

Brian Clopper I also wonder if it is tied to the surge in audience from movie adaptations. Perhaps MG enjoyed a surge of readers thanks to Harry Potter. With that franchise down and cold, the readership is down. To me, the rise of YA has a strong link to The Hunger Games and Twilight. Sadly, this means that many YA have to be straddled with a romance that doesn't always work and feels extraneous. A good example is The Fifth Wave. It would be a stronger book if it focused more on delving into its science fiction trappings over its overwrought romance. To me, I picked up a YA science fiction book that turned out to not be that at all.

While I read a lot of YA, I think it's in part due to it mining areas I am interested in: zombies, post-apocalyptic worlds and thrilling action. MG should be able to deliver that as well.

I guess I just pine for the day when MG will again be in the limelight and pop culture is again giving it a love fest.


message 7: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl (cherylllr) Adults are still feeling as if they need to 'justify' getting caught reading books for kids of any age. It's easier to justify reading YA, it seems.

Most Newbery winners are MG, are they not? And not every child is like mine, who seeks the books that have the medallion. Some are intimidated by it. So a teacher has a dilemma - there are great books available, but they're not always readily appealing in a MG classroom.

I think one issue is that a lot of 4th-7th grade kids are busy being kids, and in adolescence a lot of them get more introspective and start looking for answers in books.


message 8: by Bobbi (new)

Bobbi (bobbichukran) I used to like reading YA books, but I'm afraid those books are now considered tweens or upper MG. I would probably read more YA if it wasn't for the romance. I never got into the Twilight series, and stayed away from The Hunger Games because my 17-year-old niece (who reads everything) said they were horrible. LOL. I've been finding a lot of the older MGs and reading them for the first time. Sadly, those are probably now for kids that are 7 or 8.


message 9: by Krystalyn (new)

Krystalyn Drown | 10 comments Personally, I think MG is more lively than YA. You can have adventures that just aren't possible in YA, because YA is more grown up. While YA can have magic and fantasy, the stories are more about coming into your own. In MG, you can have magic and fantasy just for the sake of adventure.


message 10: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Marr (andrewmarrosb) | 25 comments Interesting question. I'm not in a very good position to say if Y/A is getting more attention than MG is more hipper but it does seem like it right now. Much has been said about romance in Y/A but a bigger turn off for me is that preponderance of vampire type novels. I've not been following the Y/A group much because of that. (There are a very few vampire novels I've read, but it's a low interest for me. I think it important that more literature for young people deal with personal relations of various sorts. If romance is a big portion of a Y/A novel, then other sorts of relationships don't get much attention. MG novels, the good ones anyway, are doing much better at this. It seems that kids are getting encouraged to get interested in sex earlier & earlier. I hope we don't reach a point where it becomes de rigeur for nine-year-olds to have romantic relationships in MG books.


message 11: by Melissa (new)

Melissa I enjoy both YA and MG books but lately have been shying away from the YA because I am so sick of the love triangles that most seem to think they have to have in them. MG gives the excitement without the ridiculous of the ever present love triangle. I would be ok with some romance in YA if it was just boy likes girl.

I agree that there are a lot of movie adaptions of the YA which make them seem more popular but I want my 6th grader reading the MG more than the YA because the YA are really pushing the boundary of what YA should be lately. Mostly to be more sexy, which is a shame.


message 12: by M.G. (new)

M.G. King (mgking) | 728 comments Great discussion! Here's a link that another member (also named Melissa!) posted, describing the differences between MG and YA:

http://hannahmosk.blogspot.com/2010/0...

The reason I personally love MG as a grownup is that real-life has plenty of angst without having to relive my angst-filled teen years. Middle grade is one of the last bastions of literary happy endings : ).


message 13: by Paul (new)

Paul Aertker (paulaertker) I'm 11 at heart and I love reading middle grade lit. It's what I like. (Shrug). It's who I am. Happily. :-)


message 14: by Bobbi (new)

Bobbi (bobbichukran) I'm with you, M.G. To me, MG fiction is a safe place, a comfort read. Real life as an adult is sometimes way too angst-ridden as is---I read for escape, not to reinforce what's happening in the "real" world (whatever that is--LOL). bobbi c.
PRINCESS PRIMROSE and the CURSE OF THE BIG SLEEP


message 15: by Susan (new)

Susan Lash | 9 comments I'm with Paul on this one. I've written a first person middle grade and it's fun to think like a 12 year old - without all the horrors of middle school :-)


message 16: by Bobbi (new)

Bobbi (bobbichukran) I started the second in my R. Rapunzel & S. White, Inquiry Agents series, and started out third person. I just changed to first person this morning, and it's flowing much better, and is a lot more fun, too. :-) I think I have an inner 12 year old.


message 17: by Brian (new)

Brian Clopper I am also a twelve-year-old at heart. My favorite section of the library when I was a kid was the Juvenile Science Fiction shelves. Funny how that title is no longer out there. Have Spacesuit Will Travel was one of my faves.

The great thing about being a teacher is I am around fifth graders all day. I then go home and read comics, MG novels,and then work on my own creative endeavors that have always been firmly entrenched in the adventurous all-ages category.

Happy to see so many thoughtful responses to my post. Thanks for making me feel welcome in this group. I tend to be rather shy with posting in groups.


message 18: by M.G. (new)

M.G. King (mgking) | 728 comments Brian wrote: "I am also a twelve-year-old at heart. My favorite section of the library when I was a kid was the Juvenile Science Fiction shelves. Funny how that title is no longer out there. Have Spacesuit Will ..."

It's great to have so many members joining in the discussions -- I agree, Brian, it's a welcoming group. I think it has to do with S.W.'s "Good vibes" rule that pops up for every comment : )


message 19: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Douglass (rdouglass) | 1667 comments Mod
The reason I personally love MG as a grownup is that real-life has plenty of angst without having to relive my angst-filled teen years. Middle grade is one of the last bastions of literary happy endings : )."

Spot on! And I refuse to be embarrassed about reading MG--though of course if anyone looks askance, I can justify it as keeping up with the lit so I can do reader advisories at the library, and/or keeping up with the lit because I also write MG.

But the truth is I like them.


message 20: by Helen (new)

Helen Laycock (helenlaycock) | 126 comments I have to be honest, I have never read Y.A. One minute I was a child, the next an adult and in the interim I don't think I was ever aware that there were such books. Perhaps there weren't 'way back then'! Now they don't really appeal.

Teens love Y.A. I know lots of adults enjoy Y.A. too. I think, if you enjoy sci-fi/dystopia, then you would be drawn to this genre. You get the meaty plot without as much attention to the 'nitty gritty' of romantic interludes which perhaps would be more likely in similar adult books.

There are probably a lot more reviews as well if adults are reading which will push them more to the forefront.

Y.A. also seems popular to film-makers.The Hunger Games and Twilight films were a roaring success.

Me, I'm a sucker for a great mystery, adventure or humorous tale. It is dependable, yes, but lukewarm? It doesn't have to be. Long live M.G. fiction!!


message 21: by Dianna (new)

Dianna Winget | 6 comments I haven't had time to read every comment in this thread, but I just wanted to add that my agent just returned from BEA and told me that MG is finally starting to get the respect it deserves. Contemporary, realistic MG is rapidly gaining in popularity after taking a back seat to everything fantasy, paranormal, ect, for the the past several years. This news thrilled me since my MG's are contemporary.


message 22: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl (cherylllr) And it thrills me because I want more books like those by Andrew Clements and Jeanne Birdsall.


message 23: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Douglass (rdouglass) | 1667 comments Mod
I'd rather like for historical fiction to come back in.


message 24: by Melissa (last edited Jul 03, 2013 07:15PM) (new)

Melissa Eisenmeier (carpelibrumbooks) | 58 comments I think in general, young adult gets a better reputation as hip and cool, but I've read some middle grade fiction, like Second Fiddle and C. Alexander London's books about 11-year-old twins, that were cool. Second Fiddle was especially cool- the characters got to visit Paris on their own.


message 25: by Raevyn (last edited Jul 03, 2013 11:30AM) (new)

Raevyn "Lucia" [I'm in it for the books] (raevynstar) | 36 comments Wow, I never thought about that before! On www.arbookfind.com , it explains middle-grade as 4-6 (I think) and Middle-grades plus and upper-grades(YA books) are books for 6-12th graders.

In my opinion, MG is easier, with less swearing and violence. Very few characters die onscreen, and a big difference is this:

MG:
Bob ate pie.

YA:
I eat pie.

I don't really care what it's grouped as if I'm reading it, because there are wonderful MG books and just as good YA books.


message 26: by S.W. (new)

S.W. (swlothian) | 847 comments Mod
Wow ... I've finally had a chance to sit down and read through all of the posts on this thread. I'm so pleased to see there are so many different members having their say ..... and that everyone is open-minded and listening to everyone's opinion. The 'great vibes' are alive and well.
Thanks everyone for your comments and contributions.

On a personal note : I think that YA gets the bulk of the publicity as the readers are more able to make and purchase based on their own decisions. MG readers (except for adults) are less likely to be the ones to go out and buy the book - they would rely more on their parents/teachers/librarians. I think publishers market to (and focus on) the segments that will bring them most profits - therefore driving the popularity.
(I'm no expert here, but just throwing my thoughts out there)

YA isn't a genre that I'm into, as I'm not driven by the romance, angst or the vampires etc. My love of MG (and similar adult action/mystery filled books) is due to my preference for action, adventure, learning, mystery solving and characters who show respect for others. :)


message 27: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Douglass (rdouglass) | 1667 comments Mod
SW, I think you hit nicely on what I like about MG (and I read similar things in adult books too).


message 28: by Malia (new)

Malia Haberman | 33 comments When I was looking for review blogs for my Middle Grade/'tween books, I found that there just aren't a whole lot for that age group. Though, there are TONS for YA. It was very frustrating. I began to feel like the red-headed stepchild. So I started sending to the YA blogs just to see if I could get them to at least give my book a chance. Sometimes it worked, other times it didn't. :)

So I think MG doesn't always get the respect and attention it deserves, which is crazy because Harry Potter started out as MG and looked what happened there.


message 29: by J. Lee (new)

J. Lee Graham (jleegraham) | 19 comments D. wrote: "I think it would be interesting to see if there are specific reasons people think there has been such a huge growth in YA over the past few years. It is my understanding that much of it can be attr..."

Good Points. I write both MG and YA. My MG time travel series is a blast to write due to the enormous fun I have in setting up historical worlds and situations for my 21st C protagonists to explore and encounter conflicts. (Months of research are usually involved to get the history correct.) I think MG readers love that. So, the reader gets the best of both worlds: A fun journey and remarkable relationships among the characters that are deepened due to their struggles and triumphs.

My YA novel does NOT contain vampires nor love triangles, HA! I want to create characters and relationships that have resonance with the YA reader, which, nowadays could be anyone over 13. In the long run, that is what they'll remember and relate to, not necessarily the particulars of the plot. How many of us can remember the minute details of WUTHERING HEIGHTS, but boy, we sure remember Heathcliff!


message 30: by H.Y. (new)

H.Y. Hanna (hyhanna) Melissa wrote: "I enjoy both YA and MG books but lately have been shying away from the YA because I am so sick of the love triangles that most seem to think they have to have in them. MG gives the excitement wit..."

Oh gosh, I so agree about the "love triangle" thing!! I actually enjoy and read a lot of YA but I have to say, if half of them removed the romance element, they would all be better books!! Or at least toned it down so that it is not the whole point of the story. I think that's why I love MG coz it focuses on 'friendships' and 'self-identity' in a way that's not related to whether that hot boy loves you back or whatever...

Actually, the main reason I enjoy YA is for the world-building, when it's done well - love the dystopians and the interesting ideas the authors come up with for the future - but get very frustrated when pages are spent on the romance, when I really want to find out more about the "world". But still, I prefer it over adult dystopian which can be SO depressing (talk about no happy endings!!) that you want to jump off a cliff after finishing the book! ;-)

Hsin-Yi


message 31: by M.E. (new)

M.E. | 7 comments I read, and enjoy, both YA and MG. I do have to admit that the love triangles and vampires get old, though. However, I think one of the best YA books I've read (still in progress) recently is The Fault in Our Stars - there is no love triangle at all, the voice is great, and it just pulls at my heart. But there is swearing and references to sex that are just not appropriate for a MG audience.

But I don't think romance is taboo in MG - it just needs to be appropriate. I'm thinking of Percy and Annabeth, or Jason and Piper in Rick Riordan's Olympian series, and even his Kane Chronicles have a teeny bit of romance.

Does anybody else think that Harry Potter kind of shifted more YA in later books (particularly 6 and 7)?

Mary


message 32: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Eisenmeier (carpelibrumbooks) | 58 comments True, M.E.
I do think the Harry Potter books shifted to YA in later books; the first maybe 2-3 were geared towards 11-13-year-olds, but in 4, it started to get a little more adult, and I'd say books 6 and 7 are YA.


message 33: by Rebecca (last edited Aug 13, 2013 12:08PM) (new)

Rebecca Douglass (rdouglass) | 1667 comments Mod
Totally agree. The last book seemed to medal enough and violent enough that I wouldn't want to give it to a grade-schooler.

ETA: I just saw what the autocorrect did. I have no idea what I was trying to say. Something about darkness or lust or something.


message 34: by H.Y. (new)

H.Y. Hanna (hyhanna) Yes, I agree it's OK to have romance in MG too - and I like the ones I've read (also included is Suzanne Colline's MG series: Gregor the Overlander which I LOVE - and a very sweet romance in that) - I think the emphasis is on "sweet" - like when you have a crush on the boy in class kind of thing - rather than all that sexual awareness stuff. And also the romance doesn't dominate the whole story.

Yeah, I agree also that HP became much more YA. I actually found Harry very annoying in the Order of the Phoenix with his constant teenage tantrums & self-pitying sulks! Not that he was ever my favourite character anyway - Ron is the best!! :-)

Hsin-Yi


message 35: by Lorraine (new)

Lorraine Carey (lorrainecarey) | 36 comments Brian wrote: "Just curious, but how does everyone feel about this topic. I love Middle Grade, but feel it doesn't get the same attention as Young Adult. I like both but find more work fitting my desire for adven..."
Hi Brian,
I agree, and when I wrote my novel I do not have any romance or sexual innuendoes in there, although, I have to say, the sequel I am writing to it will have a romance without any sex scenes, only the causual kiss. I met with a group of girls in grade five as we discussed this topic as they love romance and almost find it as a real motivator in the stories they choose.


message 36: by Jaime (last edited Aug 28, 2013 02:23PM) (new)

Jaime Buckley (wantedhero) | 23 comments Brian wrote: "Just curious, but how does everyone feel about this topic. I love Middle Grade, but feel it doesn't get the same attention as Young Adult. Is MG perceived as dependable and lukewarm and YA as sexy and lively? "

You know what's odd, Brian, is that the defining line has become (at least for me) the vocabulary and the romance. I thought it was as simple as the age of the protagonist, but I was wrong. Being a parent of 11 children (all boys but 8), we have many talks around here--especially over books. We have all read Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Twilight and Percy Jackson.

Here's the kicker: ...the YA is more about the sex than the sexy. It's dealing with adult emotions, while MG can go anywhere and do absolutely anything so long as it doesn't have the sensual element to it. Now, that's only my opinion and what my own kids feel.

When I was told my own books were NOT YA, I found myself somewhat relieved. Frustrated, but relieved. That is, until I found this great blog post between two professionals on the MG topic:

http://www.dystel.com/2012/03/everyth...

Check it out. Helped me to understand that MG books are more vibrant and brilliant, unhindered in creativity---but completely different in how we have to market. We have Gate Keepers, not an end market---while YA readers are buying the titles on their own, they use eReaders more commonly, have their own money.

Hope this helps.
Cheers!


message 37: by Jaime (new)

Jaime Buckley (wantedhero) | 23 comments BTW---that article is a two parter---so look for the other link in the post!


message 38: by Katy (new)

Katy Pye (pyewriter) | 29 comments Dianna wrote: "I haven't had time to read every comment in this thread, but I just wanted to add that my agent just returned from BEA and told me that MG is finally starting to get the respect it deserves. Contem..."

Hooray!! They deserve a chance to shine! I happen to love MG, or a good YA if it uses its sexuality to teach about relationships and real emotions, conflicts, and resolutions. I don't see many of those around. Writing can be excellent, but so many characters come off more cardboard than substance.

YA has had lots of attention because of the pure sexual stuff, however. Kids want to know about it. It's a mystery until they have sex, so why not learn about it in a safe environment of a book (certainly not from parents-not news). But every kid evolves at his/her own pace--so do parents. HA! Tween books have the much-needed chance to fill a gap, perhaps.

My problem with some YA books is they lean toward sex as a form of control, a way to use another, demand submission, practice deceit, etc. And why vampires?! Why are dead people sexy?? Okay, that's another thread. Many YA books provide a certain sort of escapism, which I think lots of kids (and adults) want in the difficult life many lead. Hormones, jobs... MG books let us experience life before we head into those times, or look back to a time when life was less confusing or complex. There's a lot of ground to walk in MG. Sometimes with more honesty and character.


message 39: by Jaime (new)

Jaime Buckley (wantedhero) | 23 comments If anyone's still interested in this subject, I just got a beautiful article from Hillsdale College: Imprimis.

http://www.hillsdale.edu/news/imprimi...

Talks about YA literature and I think it's empowering to those of us striving to create a better experience for younger youth.


message 40: by Jerry (new)

Jerry Craft (jerrycraft) | 10 comments As a MG author (don't worry, I'm not plugging my books) I know there are certain restrictions that I have that teen authors may not. Such as not being able to use flashbacks ... I think it hampers the creativity a bit and makes the stories less cool. I don't think that a lot of publishing houses see 11 year olds as being any different than they were 30 years ago. But my two teen sons are so much more sophisticated than I was, that it's not funny.


message 41: by J.L. (new)

J.L. | 48 comments I think most has already been said, but I'll add that many people who read YA are actually women over 18. There's always that element of people who want to "go back to high school and relive it". While for many people middle school and their first crush, etc wasn't as memorable (or well liked). Reading many times is an escape, even an escape back to a time. Just my .02


message 42: by Beverly (new)

Beverly McClure (beverlysmcclure) | 25 comments Brian wrote: "Just curious, but how does everyone feel about this topic. I love Middle Grade, but feel it doesn't get the same attention as Young Adult. I like both but find more work fitting my desire for adven..."

Teaching 5th grade and reading great Newbery books and others with my kids is where I discovered how much I enjoyed MG books. Many times they took me back to my school days which were pretty good, the best I remember. I have also discovered that teens today are a lot different than when I was in school.


message 43: by Lorraine (new)

Lorraine Carey (lorrainecarey) | 36 comments MIddle Grade Novels seem to still be in that ‘safe zone’ as I would call it as they don’t have the violence, profanity and sexual content of Young Adult. Now, my new novel, has little violence and minimal profanity and has the same comfy feeling of the family setting with good core values. Many teenagers have been reading middle grade fiction and vice versa.


message 44: by Katy (new)

Katy Pye (pyewriter) | 29 comments Lorraine wrote: "MIddle Grade Novels seem to still be in that ‘safe zone’ as I would call it as they don’t have the violence, profanity and sexual content of Young Adult. Now, my new novel, has little violence and..."

I hope you're right, Lorraine. Part of what we authors run up against, if our books aren't pure MG or pure YA (instead "teen" or "tween"), is the categorizing of libraries and booksellers, et al. 9-12 (MG) and 14-18 (YA). They don't capture our stories, depending on how much of which "gate-keeper" issues are represented. Jerry, I agree. Everyone keeps telling me 10 year-olds aren't as young anymore, either.


message 45: by Victor (new)

Victor Kloss (victorkloss) | 23 comments I think it goes in phases. When Harry Potter was still coming out, MG was huge and publishers were releasing MG books like crazy, trying to take advantage of the Harry Potter phenomenon.

Then Twilight was released and for me that really propelled YA into a new stratosphere. YA hasn't looked back since.


message 46: by Steven (new)

Steven V.S. (middlegradeprivateer) | 15 comments I agree.

I'm not really that much of a fan of YA, because (sorry if this offends anyone) it seems to be more about the dreamy boy/girl rather than the adventure at hand. All the YA books I've read in recent memory were like this, and seemed to put personal relationships ahead of the Big Bads

MG on the other hand does deal with relationships but it takes a backseat to the great adventure. I also find MG are generally better paced, propelling the action along whilst YA seemed to generally have much thinner plots.


message 47: by V.K. (new)

V.K. Finnish | 77 comments Steven wrote: "...MG on the other hand does deal with relationships but it takes a backseat to the great adventure. I also find MG are generally better paced, propelling the action along whilst YA seemed to generally have much thinner plots."

Well said. That's exactly what I feel about the MG-YA line. And, from what I've seen, boys tend to stick with MG longer because of just that, whilst girls are quicker to go on to YA because of relationships taking a higher priority.


message 48: by Steven (new)

Steven V.S. (middlegradeprivateer) | 15 comments I was reading MG still I was 21 then moved straight to adult - skipping YA entirely :D


message 49: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Douglass (rdouglass) | 1667 comments Mod
Agree with Steven and VK :)


message 50: by V.K. (new)

V.K. Finnish | 77 comments Rebecca wrote: "Agree with Steven and VK :)"

Yay! We should all form a group focused on middle grade great reads!

Oh, wait...

:-)


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