Current NaNo Word Count: 15,072
Today’s Goal: 1,800 words
Actual Words Written: 2,031
Total Actual Words: 17,103
lol. I’m double dutying it today because I want to post about both NaNo and Middle Grade Lit.
I’ve seen several NaNo writers puzzling over whether their novel is middle grade or YA. I blogged about some of those differences in a post called Middle Grade Lit, What is it?
I also blogged about the difference between upper and lower middle grade HERE. Middle Grade has a lot of grey area because at that time in a young reader’s life, their reading, social, mental, and other skills are changing and growing so quickly.
I’ve been reading a range of middle grade and YA books geared towards different ages lately and here’s a sampling of how I’d categorize them, presented in ascending age level:
The Night Fairy by Laura Amy Schlitz: younger middle grade – good and bad are more black and white, simple story and simple character arc, no sophisticated problem solving. I’d say for 7-9 year olds. Maybe some precocious 6 year olds, but the spider scene might be a bit scary.
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznik: middle, middle grade. lol. 8-12 year olds. More challenging than Night Fairy because of more mature themes. More complex story. Requires being able to visualize more.
Here Lies the Librarian by Richard Peck: slightly above the middle, middle grade. 9 – 12 year olds. There’s more subtlety here. A reader would have to be sophisticated enough to read between the lines an understand a more challenging POV, one of someone from the early 20th century.
Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix: upper middle grade (11-14) – School Library Journal says grades 4-8 but I disagree. The time travel elements are probably too much for younger kids to wrap their heads around and some of the ideas are pretty sophisticated. There’s a lot more to puzzle out. (side note: this book classification actually confused me because it felt like it should have been a YA novel – I’ll review this later in the month)
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One thing people tend to fall back on is the age of the protagonist. Kids tend to read about characters who are slightly older than they are.
But this is not always the case. I am currently reading John Connolly’s Book of Lost Things (marvelous and disturbing). The protagonist is a 12-year-old boy and it’s definitely not a kids book. The writing is luxurious, sophisticated, and part fairy tale, part psychological study.
As far as NaNo goes, if you don’t know yet what age your target market is, just write the story and see what you have. You can decide then, or ask for help from fellow writers, and make any necessary changes in the rewrite.
Have a great week NaNoBots!