Today I was in the elementary school library and man, middle grade books are so much better these days than they were when I was a kid. I love that I get to catalog these books and learn about them.
One of the tips I give to book club leaders who feel that their groups are stuck in a rut, is to have them try a middle grade book. I share my experiences leading the elementary school book club, which I blogged about here, to explain why it works so well.
I especially think middle grade works better than YA for more adult readers because they don’t judge it as much. By this I mean, with some adult who are new to reading YA, all they do is complain how it isn’t as "complex” or isn’t as “well written,” as adult titles [both comments are useless and wrong as criticism]. They spend too much time trying to feel superior to the book in front of them. But, with middle grade, the adult reader already knows that the book HAS to be written at a different level than adult and is more willing to let the story unfold on its own merits. They expect it to be “easier.” They spend no time judging and all of their time experiencing the book, and almost always, they are honestly surprised by how deep, moving, and intricate these books are.
I have found that adult readers are often surprised by how much middle grade has to offer to them as a reader. This is why it makes such a great suggestion. You are helping them to find a book they would never consider on their own. And when they love it, you get the credit. If they don’t like it, they blame it on the book being for kids. You are off the hook. This is a no lose proposition people.
So why not put up a display in the adult section this weekend, or make a list for the website of books to “rediscover your childhood.” Give people lists of current, middle grade. Not the stuff from their youth, but the things they could be reading if they were kids now. These are the books they don’t know about.
Here is a great list of 100 Must Read Middle Grade Books via BookRiot to get you started. All were published since 2016.
But you could also go talk to your youth library staff and ask them to build the display in your section. Talk to them about what books are popular with kids, what titles they are most excited about, and what they think would be great for adults. This is a wonderful team building exercise whether or not any of the titles get checked out by adults or not.
Also, you can reciprocate and make them a display of books they can bring into story times for the adults to look at and consider reading for themselves while they are in a youth program with their kids.
Everybody wins here-- patrons, staff, the library as an organization of people working together...
Have a nice weekend.
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