Monday, November 4, 2013

The Middle Grades - A Time of Discovery

It happens around third grade. Many children begin to care more about their friends' approval rather than their parents' or teachers'. Recognition of social structure and popularity begin to dominate for many kids in these grades. And in large public school systems, the exposure to diversity provides multiple levels of education and experiences. Kids are sponging it all up.

Their curiosity and understanding of their world is growing so quickly in these middle grade years that it can be exciting and frightening at the same time. Often, the highs and lows cycle quickly, and the ranges of emotional maturity and intellectual ability vary widely among middle graders.

While they are discovering who they are and who they want to be, they internalize their environment constantly. If we use our middle grade voice to reflect that in our writing, we'll connect with our audience.

Most of the students I worked with as a school counselor had an uncanny ability to differentiate B.S. from honesty. And like most adults, my students preferred uncomfortable truths to vague and deceiving language.

Give kids credit. They are perceptive, for the most part. Especially kids who read a lot.

*Step in, The Author*

We help shape these kids lives whether we set out to do that or not. They are curious, observant, discerning, and able to handle thought-provoking literature. So that's what I like to write. But I also include the fun, because I remember the fun of middle grade as well as the confusion.

I believe there's a bit of middle grade in everyone and I think this is why some middle grade appeals to adults so well.

We remember significant moments of our lives from these times. Our target audience is living these moments right now. (In fact, I've got a few middle graders living in my house right now.) So, keep up the good writing as you listen to your middle grade voices, and let's keep giving them exciting and honest literature!

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