Tag Archives: Children’s literature

What Are Middle Grade Novels?

“What Are Middle Grade Novels?” by Joan Y. Edwards

Read Kristi Holl’s Right-Writing.com article “Writing the Middle Grade Novel” http://www.right-writing.com/middle-grade.html. She is an instructor for The Institute of Children’s Literature.  It gives a good comprehensive overview of what Middle Grade Novels are. I read a lot of posts. Her explanation was simple and clear. It was the best one that I read.

After reading all of the sources below, I combined their knowledge and mine to give you a good idea to answer the question, “What are Middle Grade Novels?”

Criteria for Middle Grade Novels

  • Written for 8-12 years old – Grades 3, 4, 5, 6
  • 30,000 -45,000 (120  – 180 pages) pages may vary.
  • Chapters 7-10 pages each (may vary)
  • Unlimited Chapters
  • Contains Words with any number of syllables.
  • Any structure of sentences
  • Episodes stand on their own in each chapter and lead up to a big crescendo at the end.
  • Humor
  • Strong Voice

Main Character in Middle Grade Novel

  • experiences problems with school, friends, neighborhood, siblings, pets, and people in authority
  • realizes that adults make mistakes, including his own parents
  • leans more heavily on opinions and advice of friends, rather than parents.
  • his parents may be missing from the story or not needed to make the story believable
  • may be opinionated and doesn’t think there’s any room for people to have a different opinion from his.  (I believe it might be a good time to teach him debating skills.)

Middle Grade Students

  • want to please
  • worry about being wrong or doing it wrong.
  • place things in an all right or all wrong category.
  • want to belong
  • show interest in opposite sex by teasing, joking, and showing off.
  • sometimes verbally abusive of classmates: name-calling and nasty put-downs.
  • learn how to handle bullying.

Middle Grade Students Enjoy

  • clubs
  • secrets
  • rules, rituals, routine
  • games
  • hobbies that develop interests and talents like music, art, dance, sports

Anita Gurian, Ph.D. and Alice Pope, Ph.D. say “They (kids) learn how to set up rules, how to weigh alternatives and make decisions when faced with dilemmas. They experience fear, anger, aggression and rejection. They learn how to win, how to lose, what’s appropriate, what’s not. They learn about social standing and power – who’s in, who’s out, how to lead and how to follow, what’s fair and what’s not.”

Examples of Middle Grade Novels

  1. Amazon Best Selling Middle Grade Books https://www.amazon.com/Best-Sellers-Books-8223722010-Middle-Grade-Ages-12/zgbs/books/7782727011
  2. Good Reads.com “684 Popular Middle Grade Fiction Titles http://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/middle-grade-fiction
  3. Seira Wilson. “Best Children’s Middle Grade Books of the Year.” http://www.omnivoracious.com/2011/11/best-childrens-middle-grade-books-of-the-year.html


1. About.com. Children’s Books Top Picks “Historical Fiction for Middle Grade Readers:” http://childrensbooks.about.com/od/toppicks/tp/Award-Winning-Historical-Fiction-For-Middle-Grade-Readers.htm
2.  Babette Reeves, the Passionate Librarian. “Middle Grade or Young Adult: What’s the difference?” http://babetter.wordpress.com/2009/08/21/middle-grade-or-young-adult-whats-the-difference/
3.. Barnes & Noble. New York Bestsellers Middle Grade and Young Adult Books http://www.barnesandnoble.com/u/childrens-books-ny-times-bestsellers-chapter-books/379001074/
4. Good Reads.com “684 Popular Middle Grade Fiction Titles http://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/middle-grade-fiction
5. Kristi Holl, Right-Writing.com. “Writing the Middle Grade Novel” http://www.right-writing.com/middle-grade.html
6.  Seira Wilson. “Best children’s Middle Grade Books of the Year.” http://www.omnivoracious.com/2011/11/best-childrens-middle-grade-books-of-the-year.html

Wow! It’s a bunch to get a handle on, but step by step, we’ll make it. I recommend checking out 25 Middle Grade Novels and compare them with the ideas on this page. You may find they coincide with the ideas on this page. You may find ideas that disagree with my findings. Be true to your characters and their voice from within. The editors will decide where it goes. Make your best guess.

I hope that this helps you understand what makes a Middle Grade Novel. Ask me questions. Give me answers. Tell me your favorite Middle Grade Novel. What’s missing from my criteria? I’ll do “What are Young Adult Novels?” next in this Genre series.

I am honored by your presence here. Thanks for reading.

Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards

What Are Easy Readers?

What Are Easy Readers? image
Copyright 2011 Joan Y. Edwards

“What Are Easy Readers” by Joan Y. Edwards

Perhaps you have a story that would make a great Easy Reader. Here are a few facts and opinions to help you decide.

The following link will help you understand better about Easy Readers. It’s a passage from p. 14 and p. 15 in Biscuit, a My First I Can Read Book by Alyssa Satin Capucilli with illustrations by Pat Schories.

Easy Readers, Emerging Readers, and Beginning Readers are all books for the young child who is just learning to read.

Many publishing houses have their own brand of easy readers. They have different levels. Each publisher’s criteria may vary. Robyn Opie says, “The characters, settings, themes and conflicts of easy readers must be relevant to your readers…consider: family, friends, pets, animals, school, holidays, sports, losing something, finding something, being left out, being different, etc.

If you are using Word 2003 and 2007, you can set your Spelling and Grammar Review to check the readability of your manuscript. It uses the

6-8 year old Easy Readers have the following elements

  • Color Illustrations on every page, even though they aren’t essential to understand the story
  • Words tell whole story and don’t rely on illustrations to explain parts.
  • Action and dialogue
  • Simple words
  • Simple, short sentences with one idea per sentence
  • Controlled Vocabulary
  • Introduce new words so they can be figured out in context
  • 2-5 sentences a page
  • 200-1500 words
  • 48 to 64 pages

Examples of Easy Readers

Alyssa Capucilli Biscuit, Level 1 http://www.amazon.com/Biscuit-Alyssa-Satin-Capucilli/dp/0064442128
Betsy Byars The Golly Sisters, Level 3 http://www.amazon.com/Hooray-Golly-Sisters-Harper-Paperback/dp/0064441563/
Denis Cazet Minnie and Moo, Level 3 http://www.amazon.com/Minnie-Moo-Missing-Jelly-Donut/dp/0060730099/
Marjorie W. Sharmat Nate The Great http://www.amazon.com/Nate-Great-Marjorie-Weinman-Sharmat/dp/0385730179/
Peggy Parrish Amelia Bedelia, Level 2 http://www.amazon.com/Amelia-Bedelia-Read-Book-Level/dp/0064441555/

Publishers of Easy Reader Series

Houghton-Mifflin Harcourt
Harper Collins – I Can Read books
Random House – Step Into Reading


    1. Harold Underdown, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Publishing Children’s Books: http://www.underdown.org/cig_3e_ch08b.htm
    2. Harold Underdown. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Publishing Children’s Books,
      Chapter 8: Novels and Other Books with Chapters (list of books) http://www.underdown.org/cig_3e_ch08c.htm
    3. Misty Karam. “Book Recommendations: Easy Readers”
    4. University of Illinois. School Collection on the ESSL Children’s Literature Blog http://www.library.illinois.edu/blog/esslchildlit/archives/2010/11/easy_reader_boo.html

I suggest that you check out about 25-100 of the Easy Readers. Read this post again with one of the Easy Readers in your hand, it’ll cement its style and necessities into your mind. It’ll help you discover if this genre suits your writing style and topics of interest. I hope that this will help you decide if you have a neat idea for an Easy Reader. I’m doing a post on Chapter Books next.

Learn something new.
It’ll inspire you to be thankful for what you already know.

Flip Flap Floodle will make a wonderful gift for your 4-8 year old child or grandchild. I loved telling, writing, and illustrating it. The little duck and his song remind children to believe in themselves and never give up. It’s available as a paperback and as an ebook for the Kindle and Nook, too. I hope you’ll consider purchasing a copy. Thanks.

Never Give Up
Live with Enthusiasm
Celebrate Each Step You Take

Joan Y. Edwards
Copyright © 2011-2016 Joan Y. Edwards

Updated September 4, 2016