Reading

Why I Read Middle Grade as an Adult

Hi, my name is Laura, I’m 25 years old and I LOVE reading middle grade books.

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They occupy a special place in my heart, and in bookshops and libraries alike I am irrevocably drawn to that colourful section where middle grade is housed. I think part of the reason why I adore this age categorisation is because I fell in love with reading as a middle-grader–I used to spend lunchtimes in the school library devouring the latest tome. I also think that there’s a kind of magic about middle grade, because it hits right at that age bracket where kids are becoming more independent, finding their sense of self and their place in the world.

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I know a lot of my family and friends get confused when I rattle off the term ‘middle grade’, or MG–so I’ll define it. Middle grade are books aimed more generally at 8-12 year olds. They are the age bridge between Chapter Books and Young Adult. Think the early Harry Potter‘s, think Robin Steven’s Murder Most Unladylike, and the fantastic Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend.

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Middle grade is by far my biggest Goodreads category. I read at least one a month, usually more. And at 25, I don’t plan to stop reading MG. I do occasionally get some funny looks on the train when I pull out a brightly coloured cover or a pun-nily titled book. And when I rattle off a list of recent reads to friends and acquaintances, they dismiss them because they’re ‘kid’s books’. I was once even asked when I planned to start reading ‘proper literature’.

Me @ that person:

 

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Remarks like that make me mad. Firstly, middle grade books occupy a massive breadth of genres, from fantasy to sci-fi to dystopian. Dismissing them as ‘kid’s books’ or implying that they are less than is a gross oversimplification. Themes and ideas as complex and diverse as death, black holes, and feminism are tackled routinely in middle grade.

ALSO, there are some HILARIOUSLY funny middle grade books about pranks and bad smells and chocolate that are just as valuable books, albeit in a different way. Humour is difficult to write anyway, and I am of the opinion that funny books about silly topics should be as celebrated as their more serious cousins.

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Also, when adults (and it’s almost always adults) describe middle grade as not ‘proper books’, what kind of message is that sending to children? That their stories aren’t as worthy as adult stories? I think that it’s a message that leads down a slippery slope of judging what other people are reading. (*deep breath* PEOPLE CAN READ WHATEVER THEY WANT!!)

So, as an adult, I’m 99.999% sure that I’m going to continue reading middle grade forever.  They are, without a doubt, my favourite stories to read. They make me smile and they inspire me. They are the books I want to write. MIDDLEGRADE4EVA, as twelve year old me would write on every notebook I ever got.

Do you read middle grade as an adult?

5 thoughts on “Why I Read Middle Grade as an Adult

  1. I am 56, and I love middle grade even more now than when I was 26, and almost as much as I did at 10. I love the breadth and innocence and wonder, as well as the fears and challenges. Now, I write them as well (my debut MG novel came out last August), and I am even more aware of the challenges and intricacies of writing well for children.

    MIDDLEGRADE4EVA!

  2. I could have written this as I am also 25 and adore middle grade (and children’s) books! It’s always a bummer when someone makes a joke about what I am reading. My coffee table is covered in a mix of adult novels, middle grade books, and kid’s graphic novels which tends to elicit snarky comments about “where the real books are.” I don’t even bother trying to explain anymore because, as you said, people can read whatever they want!

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