Thursday, July 1, 2010
LET'S TALK MIDDLE GRADE
Middle Grade is a toughie.
Many of us remember what it is like to be a teen. Heck, sometimes I think I still am one (wishful thinking, I know). But middle grade is a time when we are just forming our personalities. We are still part of the clump of elementary school but recognizing that we are individuals. Although we are herded from one subject/activity/etc to the next with the group, we are becoming aware of our tastes, abilities, opinions; often too young to rage against the machine.
We hit middle school and for some the raging may begin, but the need to be part of the group often has equal importance. So we rage against our parents and seek popularity amongst our peers. We don't all gravitate to the same groups but our need for friends and our conflicted feelings towards growing up and still needing the security of family begins our tailspin into teenage angst.
I read so darn much it is hard to remember what books I've read if someone asks---hey, what are the best middle grade books---but I will try to list some of my favorites and please list yours in the comments so I can discover new treasures. Regarding classics, yes they are fantastic and I don't know a child who goes through elementary school without reading THE GIVER or HATCHET, but what are some of the newer middle grades that are must reads?
Here are some of mine (some new, some older):
Rita Williams-Garcia's ONE CRAZY SUMMER
Ralph Fletcher's FIG PUDDING and FLYING SOLO
Sharon Creech's LOVE THAT DOG and HAT THAT CAT
Lauren Tarshis' EMMA-JEAN LAZARUS FELL OUT OF A TREE
Rebecca Stead's WHEN YOU REACH ME
Andrew Clement's FRINDLE
Lisa Yee's MILLICENT MIN, GIRL GENIUS and BOBBY VS. GIRLS (ACCIDENTALLY)
Art by the wonderful Mike Lester