Friday, February 17, 2012

Middle Grade Books for Boys (LTUE Conference, Feb. 9, 2012)

Presenters:
me and a blue wall
Stacy Whitman, Editor, Tu Books


Tyler Whiteside, author of the Janitors MG series 

E.J. Patten
E. J. Patten, author of the Hunter Chronicles

What is middle grade?
  • MG is for reluctant readers ages 8-12 or 13
  • Middle readers are those not reading Magic Tree House anymore
  • Middle as in middle school
  • Harry Potter 
MG themes:
  • Relationships such as friendship
  • Not much sexual tension, but maybe some puppy love.
  • Adventure/action
  • Not so much about coming of age; more about transition from child to teenager
Ave. length:
  • 55-60,000
  • Realism shorter (35,000-80,000)
  • Eg: Spiderwick 
MG Reading Level 
  • Most YA is written at a 7th grade reading level some is written at a 4th-5th  grade reading level
  • It’s okay to use big words and 1st person for MG readers
What boys like to read about:
  • Weapons
  • Action
  • Humor
  • Boys love nonfiction, too—Magazines, the Internet, Legos
  • Fantasy and sci/fi are great for those reluctant readers
  • Transition into classics or Newberry award winners
  • They are at an age where they are establishing gender identity 
POV in MG books:
  • MG seldom switches POV, though it happens every now and then
  • The reason why middle graders come back to a series is because they fall in love with a character.
  • If they are invested in certain POV, the reader probably wants to see that POV in next book.
Do’s and don’t’s for MG books:
  • Remember what its like when you were at that age, but also remember that times are different, though there are some constants such as developmental/emotional
  • Don’t introduce too many complications, but you need a few to move story forward
  • Make the character roughly 1-2 years older than the readers, topping out at 13.
  • Diary of a Wimpy kid is an example of young MG
Humor in MG Books:
  • Potty humor is common in MG books for boys.
  • Young boys like slap stick
  • Advanced potty humor: If you can use gross stuff for cool inventions or magic, (like using garbage to create weapons to fight monsters) boys like that.
  • Stacy doesn’t like potty humor and doesn’t typically acquire books that include it (good to know)
Recommendations:
  • Rick Reardon’s Galaxy Games
  • Artimus Fowl
  • Fable Haven
  • Percy Jackson
  • Heroes of Olympus
  • The red Pyramid
  • Warriors
  • Leviathin
  • Lark Light

5 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing this wonderful information! It is really hard finding good MG reads for boys today.

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    1. You're welcome. I'm glad it was helpful.

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  2. Thanks Alice, this post is great! My oldest is now 9(!) and has nearly finished the Harry Potter series. I'm looking ahead to see what will spark his interest next.

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    1. That's awesome. I loved it when my son read Harry Potter and I read some of them with him. I miss those days. They grow so fast. Now he's read the Percy Jackson books.

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  3. Interesting - I didn't know that in MG a series should always be from the same POV. That's great to know! Thanks for posting this!

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