Great Middle Grade Reads discussion

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message 1: by M.G. (last edited Aug 22, 2013 01:19PM) (new)

M.G. King (mgking) | 728 comments I'm showing my age here, but when I was a kid back in the 70s and 80s, YA was just coming into its own. There wasn't the vast landscape of children's books that's out there today. As an avid reader, I often picked up books written for grown-ups (but not necessarily "adult" in content--mainstream books were much tamer back then, lol).

Some of those writers have remained favorites. For example,
James Herriot All Things Bright and Beautiful by James Herriot ,
Charles Dickens David Copperfield by Charles Dickens , and
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle .

Anyone else have favorite books that you read as a child, that were not necessarily "kid" books?


message 2: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Douglass (rdouglass) | 1662 comments Mod
I, too, read James Herriot. And by jr. High I was not only reading lots of SF and fantasy (which was not YA back then but always squeaky clean) but was devouring (I'm sorry to confess) Louis L'Amour while my best friend devoured Harlequin Romances (again, the old original ones were very clean).


message 3: by Cordelia (new)

Cordelia Dinsmore (cordeliadinsmore) | 105 comments I read Victoria Holt, Zane Grey, Jack London, Hemingway, and, yes, Louis L'Amour. It gave me something to talk about with my dad, who was mostly too preoccupied for kids.


Cheryl is busier irl atm. (cherylllr) Yup, M.G., ditto. I also read The Hobbit, or There and Back Again a half-dozen times in Jr. High. Mostly though, I was content to read children's books, like The Secret Garden and the horse stories of Marguerite Henry.

And then I moved to everything I could find by Isaac Asimov, including non-fiction, and Ray Bradbury.


message 5: by H.Y. (new)

H.Y. Hanna (hyhanna) Oh - probably showing my age too ;-) - but when I was a teen, there were no books for teens (at least, not in the bookstores in Dubai which had a pretty paltry selection of English books anyway! ;-) ) - so once I finished all the kids' classics, I could only read adult books. As a consequence, I probably started reading romances far earlier than I should have!! ;-) I remember my father picking up a copy of Eric Segal's "Love Story" from my bed when I was 15 and being horrified by all the swearing that was in there! He banned me from reading that book! :-) I did read a lot of the classics - I devoured all the Georgette Heyer books and also Jane Austen books, and also read a lot of George Orwell and Oscar Wilde (loved his plays)...I do think teens/YA are so much luckier these days with the vast choice of books especially for them.


message 6: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Douglass (rdouglass) | 1662 comments Mod
H.Y. --Or maybe we're short-changing our kids by not pushing them to read more substantial books? I think I'd rather my kids read Jane Austen than Twilight.


message 7: by M.G. (new)

M.G. King (mgking) | 728 comments I think there was a confidence I gained as a reader. By the time I finished my library's 800 page edition of David Copperfield and several hundred pages of Sherlock Holmes as a 4th grader, I really felt like there wasn't anything in the literary world I couldn't conquer! But was years later when I tried to reread those Sherlock stories before I realized that my favorite detective was an opium addict . . .


message 8: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Douglass (rdouglass) | 1662 comments Mod
LOL! My younger son has chosen to disdain YA in favor of reading "serious" books. He read Tale of Two Cities in 5th grade, and had to admit there was a lot he didn't understand. Which may be a good thing.


message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

Rebecca wrote: "H.Y. --Or maybe we're short-changing our kids by not pushing them to read more substantial books? I think I'd rather my kids read Jane Austen than Twilight."

I agree. The gap YA lit has filled is both a blessing and curse. It's great there is so much out there, but then again a lot of it's incredibly junky. Slutty and/or weak female characters upset me the most. I read Austen, Poe, and Dickens in High School and am very thankful it was that rather than the Twilight books.
Not sure how I feel about all the sex (and almost sex) in YA books either. 18 year olds Ok? ... but 13 year olds are reading those same books.


message 10: by Betsy (new)

Betsy (mistymtladi) It could be that you haven't worked with the same 13 to 15 year olds that I have, and yes, they have a wide extreme of innocence from those who haven't had their first kiss to those who have had their first miscarriage or child. For the majority of them, if they themselves are relatively inexperienced, they have a friend who is as experienced as you or I. Just last year I worked some 7th grade girls who could have used bibliothereapy,but I gave the book Eleanor and Park to the Guidance counselor because of a few X-rated words that same "parents" who were abusing them might have objected to. And to be quite frank, I know I am not qualified to do the in-depth counseling they might need. Truth be told even the guidance counselor could only set the proper agencies in motion to hopefully help my girls because their license only permits them to do so much. I don't know, but wish I did ,what the answer is.


message 11: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Douglass (rdouglass) | 1662 comments Mod
One of the most troubling aspects of much YA, to me, is how much it reinforces the idea that a girl is pretty much validated by the love interest in her life. Sometimes I don't think we've progressed a bit since Alcott and L.M. Montgomery (both of whom wrote interesting, strong female characters, but almost all get their ultimate validation by marrying).


Cheryl is busier irl atm. (cherylllr) And that's a reason I prefer MG, or the classics previously mentioned that are for all ages, to YA.


message 14: by Liza (new)

Liza | 15 comments I haven't read a lot of classics. I am actually trying to force myself to read them to find out WHY they are classics. I recently read To Kill A Mockingbird and found it to be excellent. Not something that my MG'er would be interested in reading, tho.


message 15: by Melissa (new)

Melissa In Jr High I was reading Stephen King and Jane Austen so I sometimes wonder about the YA Genre as to why it is so big. I loved Gone with the Wind.

I get MG because that is a bit of a lower reading level but YA still often leaves me scratching my head.


message 16: by Christine (new)

Christine | 28 comments A few popular adult book where I work are The Help, The Bean Trees: Animal Dreams ; Pigs In Heaven and The Secret Life of Bees.


message 17: by Lea Ann (new)

Lea Ann (buntingla) So on this note, I'm going to mention that I have a student (6th grade) who is a voracious reader. The other day he was also smack talking with another student about what a good reader he is, so I held up my copy of Moby Dick and sweetly challenged him to read it. He was a little hesitant until I told him it was worth 42 A/R points. His competitive spirit got the best of him then, and he accepted my challenge. We'll see if he makes it through!

Also I'll weigh in here too. I read "adult" books in high school. I don't even think they had YA then.


message 18: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Douglass (rdouglass) | 1662 comments Mod
Lea, I'm pretty sure I read largely "adult" books, as did my friends. Many were sort of "adult lite" though--Louis L'Amour and harlequin romances, depending on our natures. And SF and fantasy, both of which tended to be very clean back then!


message 19: by Christine (last edited Dec 20, 2013 08:17AM) (new)

Christine | 28 comments What I notice is that my 6th and 7th grade students love reading the standard MG books. Reading drops off at 8th grade. My 8th grade students that move on to books like The Road, The Kite Runner and Of Mice and Men re-engage as readers. They discover something new. The hard part is that parents are horrified at the thought of their "babies" reading about tough issues. Also, at that age (unlike a 6th grade student) they have to shift from the idea of length being the challenge to subject/theme etc being the challenge.


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