Stand Up For Middle Grade Books – or Tweens?

tweensTheres a great post on the ReadingZone.com called: Why children’s books needs an ‘MGLC’

First, what is MGLC?

The MG stands for Middle Grade and LC stands for Literary Convention. This comes about because there has been a successful YALC this weekend – YA stands for Young Adult.

The glamour, effort – and prizes – in children’s books has all been focused on YA in recent years. It’s great that they now have their own convention and new prizes to hi-light the best of books for teens and young adults.

Now it’s time that YA seceded from the world of children’s books and that children’s books started standing up for themselves again. There would be no YA readers if they hadn’t got the ability and habit of reading in their formative years.

Picture books and early years books are doing quite well. From a marketing point of view, they are neatly separated from the world of YA.

It’s the books in the middle that are in need of some love. The books for 7-ll year olds, that are not full of sex and blood and dystopian futures that do not really belong in the world of children’s books.

7-11 year olds are not likely to choose and buy their own books – they get them from the dwindling library service and school. Some children have enlightened parents who buy books for them, but they are a small minority. These books are bought and sold by the gatekeepers.

Once, the gatekeepers were school librarians and teachers, who knew and cared about children’s books. School Librarians are almost extinct and a whole generation of primary school teachers have grown up knowing only Literacy and relentless testing. They are so busy they have no time to learn about children’s books so they can recommend them to their pupils.

All the research shows that, apart from choosing the right parents, reading for pleasure at this age is the greatest determinator of success in later life.

Young adults can decide, buy, read and blog  about books for themselves. 7-11’s are still learning and need a bit of help and encouragement to become fluent, and hungry readers.

However, I do feel Middle Grade is a bad term. It reeks of school and “something that is meant to be good for you” The word “grade” suggests even more testing or yet another boring reading scheme.

As far as Internet marketing is concerned, the suggested hashtag #MGLC is already taken by a plethora of Gay and Lesbian communities. Maybe that would lead to mixed messages?

All I can think of are Big Kid’s (#BK)  and  Tween.

Personally, I like Tween, it’s aspirational, encompasses the position of the age group, is short and cool and suggests neither girl, or boy or any other label you might want to attach to a subset of the age group.

What do you think?

 

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