Start A Middle Grade Book Club for All, a guest post by Gina Soldano-Herrle
We’re kicking off our Mind the Middle Project for 2024 a bit early, with a guest post by Gina Soldano-Herrle about starting a middle grade book club for all. To find out more about the project and sign up to participate, visit here.
If you’ve been anywhere near Booktok or a bookstore, you’ve probably heard about all the hottest Young Adult series. But, what about Middle Grade?
While I love a good YA story as much as the next person, this year I discovered the overlooked benefits of sinking into Middle Grade.
MG Books as A Balm in Weary Years
I’ve always been an avid reader, but there are some moments in my life that stick out as more book-heavy than others. One of those was this past summer.
Due to several unexpected events, my family and I experienced the most stressful summer we’ve ever had and through it all Middle Grade kept me going.
There were days I curled up with books when life felt out of balance. After each story, even after short reading sessions, I often felt refreshed and ready to face the challenges ahead of me.
Some of you may already know all the latest youth reading statistics. I want to take a second to focus on the ones you may not know about regarding stress.
Bibliotherapy, according to Psychology Today, “is a therapeutic approach employing books and other forms of literature, typically alongside more traditional therapy modalities, to support a patient’s mental health.”
While I’m an avid advocate for mental health treatment and have written publicly about my own before, reading benefits are not limited to those with a diagnosis.
This study from 2021 showed a direct link between reduced levels of stress in adults and reading.
Another study from 2020 found that 36% of respondents picked up a book when their mood fell. The study went on to revealed that reading even for just 30 minutes a day produced 20% more life satisfaction in participants.
Benefits of reading are still being studied and we’ve really only touched the iceberg of what reading can do for us in our lives.
And don’t forget about sleep benefits!
Reading has been a relaxation technique for falling asleep ever since the printed word became widely accessible. How many times have you fallen asleep with a book in hand or decided to rest your eyes for a minute and woken up way more than one minute later?
Bibliotherapy whether through a supervised care plan or on your own could bring you significant benefits.
My Summer Middle Grade Reading List
Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen
The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste
The Way to Bea by Kat Yeh
Middle Grade from Other Weary Times
The City of Ember Trilogy by Jeanne DuPrau
Cursed by Karol Ruth Silverstein
The Front Desk by Kelly Yang
The Ship We Built by Lexie Bean
Can You See Me? by Libby Scott
Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman
Tornado Brain by Cat Patrick
The Marvellers by Dhonielle Clayton
The Many Meanings of Meilan by Andrea Wang
You can start with a club of one and begin today! All you need is a book. If you want to have a formal book club, all you need are a few people and access to a title.
Decide how often you want to meet, in person or virtual, and one title to begin with.
You could start a club at work, in your school, with your kids, with friends. The sky’s the limit!
If your children are a lower reading level than middle grade but want to join in the club, you could create a new nightly routine. Studies show that children who read at least 20 minutes every day will be exposed to around 2 million words annually.
Why not make the most of your bedtime routine by adding in a 20-minute segment from your favorite series?
Everyone deals with difficult times, but MG authors have a unique skill at making problems become much more approachable. In some of the books I mentioned, the kids face real problems that cause serious disruption to their lives. And yet, the authors address these mountains of obstacles in an approachable way and in some cases the children end up saving the world.
What an empowering mood booster!
While authors of all genres may showcase their characters overcoming obstacles, every time my life gets too big to handle, I find myself reaching for MG for a break from it all. Afterward, I feel able to do almost anything, taking it all on one step or one page at a time.
From kids to adults, Middle Grade literature is a balm for the soul. You can go on adventures, visit to other worlds, solve mysteries. In life there aren’t always answers and some stories don’t have those either, but they provide more than that. They give us an inner foundation of strength from which to build.
Bio: Gina Soldano-Herrle has been a professional ghostwriter and author since 2019. As a member of SCBWI and The 12×12 Picture Book Challenge, she’s very active in the writing community. You can find her debut picture book, Nia’s Rescue Box, at most online booksellers and read her interviews with other authors on her website.
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).
SLJ Blog Network