Middle Grade Monday – What exactly is it?
There’s been a bit of discussion lately about Middle Grade literature, what it is and who the target audience is. Mostly this is because those in the media who misunderstand Young Adult literature have chosen to expand this misunderstanding to Middle Grade as well…sigh. For a thorough look at some of the recent issues, I would strongly recommend the brilliant Anne Ursu’s post on Bookyurt.
Generally, though, this is a space where we will be discussing issues related to literature for 3rd through 7th grade students, authors who write for this age group, and programming for this age group. I for one, as a middle school library media specialist, straddle the worlds of the Middle Grade reader and the Young Adult reader daily.
I’m sure many of you are in the same position, whether you work in a school or a public library. Additionally, I think some of our patrons (customers, students, ‘choose your group noun here’) have one foot in the readership circle of Middle Grades and one in Young Adult. Perhaps this is where some of the confusion comes from.
To battle against this confusion, though, I’d like for this to be a space where we address the particular concerns of the Middle Grade reader. So, what do you see as paramount among these concerns? There is so much being written for this age group, and so much of it is amazingly good! I could go on at length about the authors I believe are contributing quality literature to this field. I could also go on at length about popular titles and their draw for younger readers, helping them engage with reading and designate themselves as ‘Readers’ (with a capital ‘R’.) This is the particular brilliance of Middle Grade literature, isn’t it? The reader is at an age where reading needs to transform from something someone else does for you to something you do for yourself. Imagine if no one wrote for this reader. Where would we be, then?
On a lighter note, I’ll leave you with the refrain of a song that is my sometimes constant companion when I think of my professional life. It has some particular significance to the life of anyone who works with middle schoolers.
Clowns to left of me
Jokers to the right
Here I am, stuck in the middle with you.
Filed under: Middle Grade Monday
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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