Last Updated on
Why I Love Middle Grade Books (even as an adult) + List with The 12 of the BEST Middle Grade Books of All Times
Here is why I love Middle Grade books, even as an adult. It really freaks me out when someone tells me Middle Grade is only for children! Here, you are going to find out why middle grade books are for everyone and why I decided to write Middle Grade instead of Young Adult!
If you’re a writer, get ALL MY WRITING RESOURCES (planner, checklists, worksheets) here for free.
Or join us here:
What is Middle Grade books (MG)?
The majority of the definitions out there tell that Middle Grade books are books for children aged 8-12. But here I want to point to my own definition, and why I think Middle Grade is much more than just a book for kids.
Middle Grade books vs Young Adult books (YA): fight!
When I was a teenager, I used to find it really weird how I disliked the “book for my age” although I didn’t know how to point at the problem exactly.
I knew I didn’t like books with a love triangle between two beasts and a human. Also, I knew there was something wrong with the fact that almost every YA I got to read had an orphan with magical hidden powers that they would use to save the world. I didn’t like the adventure plus cliché romance thing that YA seems so good at.
I used to ask myself what had changed. It appeared to me that I used to read books full of creativity, imagination, and fun. Now, every book I got had a moody teenager with superpowers that fall stupidly in love with a bad boy.
And then I became a writer, and I knew I wanted to never fall for these clichés. For the myth that for your book to be successful you have to have a love triangle, an orphan, and the hero’s journey. However, I thought: I want to write for teenagers, so I MUST write YA. I must do things that deeply irritates me, simply because every book I read have these. It has to be an orphan, it has to have a calling, the hero must be strong, and the villain plain dumb. I must force a romance somewhere in the book, even though I dislike romance deeply.
However, recently, it hit me.
The problem was with the genre (even though some people insist to say that MG and YA are not genres but publics. Here I’ll consider it as genres).
Let me be clear: I don’t hate YA. I hate the clichés YA have:
Actually, the problem is not with Young Adult itself. The problem is with the YA clichés that writers insist in putting in the story.
Honestly, what do you imagine when you hear Young Adult?
Let me tell you: a boy or a girl with powers beyong anyone’s imagination but still obsessed with being in love with someone. And they will save the world from a stupid villain, I guarantee you.
Love triangles, abusive crushes, overpowered teenagers, no family or terrible family, instantaneous love, the perfect protagonist, really badly developed villains. The list goes on…
Then again, the problem is not with Young Adult itself. It would be unfair to say that, since so many books can fit into Young Adult. My first book is Young Adult and I tried to run away from all these!
However, try to come up with a similar list for Middle Grade books. You probably can’t because Middle Grade books are extremely diverse. They are allowed to be creative and do anything.
I reckon that the problem is with an adult’s perception of what a teenager is.
They put every teenager into this box of confusing hormones and love interests. I really think that many writers out there that simply don’t put any effort into avoiding these clichés are underestimating their audience.
They are trying to fit their stories in one formula because they are afraid of being creative and not sell.
And that’s why I love Middle Grade books.
I really think it’s because of the perception adult’s have on children as well.
We imagine children being perfect, full of imagination, and creativity. They are fun, they love to play, they imagine that the most crazy things are possible for them: an wardrobe that takes you for another world. They do believe in magic.
And I really think that Middle Grade books reflect that.
Authors are not afraid to explore. They are not afraid to break formulas, explore, really dive into a fantasy world.
Middle grade books reflect the infinite possibilities of childhood.
I love middle grade books because there’s something about that age that is special. It is when you don’t know the world yet. It is like your brain is play-doh. Everything that you read, watch, see, it stays with you. Things have kind of a mistery aura. Everything is different and new. And it can be quite scary. Everything has a dreamy tone to it.
Living is just like dreaming. When you can’t control what is happening, you can’t control yourself and especially not your parents, friends, and teachers. You are going into undiscovered worlds that can be as familiar as your home’s kitchen.
At the same time that you live in your fantasy brain, you live in real life and you are always in the present. You don’t think about the future and you might rarely think about the past. You are excited for Christmas but that’s it.
You have a world of possibilities. You can be whatever you want at any given time. At the same time, you live in a world that is not yours yet and you have a lot of restrictions. Almost everything you want to do, you can’t because of your age, because of rules, or maybe because of physical limitations, like flying.
It’s the age of contradictions. It is happiness, but you are very, very afraid all the time because you don’t know things, you don’t know how to shape it, and you have little voice and control.
Everything is magical at the same time is sheer frustration. You want to get that chocolate, but your dad won’t let you have it. You can’t do anything about it. You want to understand things, but you physically is not mature enough to be able to.
You want to have friends, but nobody wants to talk to you at school and you don’t know what to do. You are not physically able to behave in a way that will make them like you because you can’t deceive things yet. You haven’t learned about it.
The essence of Middle Grade Books:
Everything is exciting and metaphorical, at the same time that the familiar is very strange. Your own room becomes completely different once it’s dark because there might be spirits. The park behind your home is as familiar as it is a totally different universe. There are trees, holes and shadows that can take you to other worlds as new as this one that you are living.
It is possible because your own existence is magical since everything is absolutely new.
The imaginary can exist as much as the booger underneath your bed when the lights are off. Your parents can be the monsters that we, as adults, don’t believe anymore.
At the same time that we can’t understand abstract thought at that age, we live in an abstract world in our head.
Infancy is contradiction. It is living in the physical world at the same time you are living in a metaphysical place since everything is so strange. All the possibilities are open at the same time when you are denied almost all your wishes. It is frustration and it is magic.
That’s why the stories live here and die a little when we are adults.
If you really want your story to shape someone’s imaginaton, write Middle Grade.
Even if they don’t remember you, your book will have touched them in a primal manner that we, as adults, don’t understand anymore. At that age, your imagination is like clay. It is not formed yet. All the stories you read change you forever.
Do you remember being a child? Was it like this?
Middle Grade books have this permission of being pure magic.
And this REALLY frustrated me when I was a teenager. All of a sudden, the quality of the books disappeared. All I could find to read for “my age” was those cliché terrible Young Adults books.
Guys, please, BE RESPONSIBLE when you are writing for teenagers as well! They are smart enough to see how these effortless books are bad.
I also believe that we are MORE RESPONSIBLE when we are writing for children. We really pay attention on how to create something really magical for them. Something that will transport them for a fantasy world of their own.
And then it comes Young Adult… it seems like people stop caring about a proper Worldbuilding and Fantasy development. If it has a stupid overpowered teenager as a protagonist that falls in love for even more stupid characters, then it’s fine.
Of course not every Young Adult out there is like this. But go to a book shop and pay attention to the difference between the Middle Grade books section and the Young Adult books section.
The YA section makes me cringe so much.
Middle Grade books are thought for children but they are so well-made and insightful that they last forever, for any age. Just like Disney movies. They are all made for children but they are adored by every age.
If you don’t believe me, I decided to make a list with some Middle Grade books classics. So you can see that the classics that changed our lives are all from here:
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links to products. I may receive a small commission for purchases made through these links. Now I’m passionate about sharing the products I love with my audience, that’s why I decided to go for their affiliate program. If you buy through this link, you help me keep making these articles for you without ANY extra cost for you. Thank you!
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Yes, Harry Potter was designed to be Middle Grade.
You can see how Harry Potter’s Worldbuilding is FANTASTIC. Every detail is well-thought.
I wonder how it would be if it was Young Adult. Maybe Harry would have fallen in love with a girl, and the magic would be the least of anyone’s concern.
Ah, he would also know every magic trick there in the first ten pages, since this is not important. Teenagers don’t believe in magic, do they? Children believe. Teens? Screw them (pardon the word, I’m very passionated about this topic).
Yes, Narnia is Middle Grade as well! It also has everything that I just said. Magic, fantasy, details. Children believe in this, right?
JUST IMAGINE if this was for teenagers…
Then again, another fantastic and well-thought book, full of creativity, mythological development, and imagination.
Tolkien really paid attention how this would shape children’s lives forever.
This inspired me as a child to be brave, fight for what I believed.
A Series of Unfortunate Events
Who can forget the brave Baudelaire children? They never gave up.
Smart, brave, well-thought
Teaches about acceptance and respect.
This one really stayed with me as a great adventure.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Funny, witty, and I LOVE IT even as an adult.
A book by the Master Neil, that teaches valuable lessons for children (and for everyone).
The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Another one by Neil. Special.
So, summing it up:
What are Middle Grade books? Who are they for?
I think we should stop thinking that books are for some ages.
This is what makes Middle Grade books great and Young Adult full of clichés.
Because we think that the first are for children, imagination beings, cute, ready for adventures; and the latter are for moody teenagers that can only think about stupid romances, so it might be a good idea to put them in an abusive love triangle.
Books are for everyone.
It does help to know your main audience. However, we must stop thinking that Young Adult books have to have some traits because they “are for teenagers”, while Middle Grade books are allowed to be anything at all.
Why should I write Middle Grade books?
Because they are the classics that stay with us.
Because they change our imagination more than anything. They stay with us, they influence us. They are allowed to be anything in the same way that children are.
They can be themselves.
Also, they are great for parents to buy for their children, so they sell very well. This is the age when people most read because they are forced to do so at school. And if they get the taste of it, they become frantic readers (like us?).
However, when we become busy adults, this reading frequency can drop a lot.
An Appeal for Young Adult Writers
My first book as Young Adult (I think) but I tried to come up with something that didn’t fall for the stupid clichés.
Please, if you are writing Young Adult, try to make something as special and magical as you would for children. It doesn’t need to have easier language, and you can talk about some harder topics like sex, abuse, and everything else. However, do it in a careful way.
Let’s change the way Young Adult is now. Let’s embed it with careful magic as well.
If you’d like to be a writer and want some help with it, check how to make a novel step by step here, or if you want some help with publication, read here if it’s worth to publish on Amazon or not!
If you’re a writer, get ALL MY WRITING RESOURCES (planner, checklists, worksheets) here for free.
Or join us here: