Writing for Middle Graders

“What age are your books written for?”

I get this question quite often, and the answer is both easy and difficult.

The easy answer is “middle graders.” If you go to your local bookstore and look for my Super Sleuth Investigator mysteries, or if you see a magazine ad for the Commander Kellie and the Superkids adventures, you’ll see that both are listed as “for middle graders.” Same with the Amazing Laptop series.

“Middle grade” is generally classified as that grade between childhood and teenage years–specifically ages 8-12. (Sometimes broadened to ages 7-13.) Though the term isn’t as popular as it once was, some people call them “tweens,” which is short for “in-betweens.”

The problem with such classification is that it pigeonholes readers, and–let’s face it–we’re all different.

Over the years I’ve received emails from 17- and 18-year-olds telling me how much they love the Superkid series. I’ve also received emails from parents of 7-year-olds telling me the same. Ironically, neither are in the “middle grade” market! When it comes right down to it, books are books and even as an adult, I love a good middle-grade novel. Hey, I enjoy a good picture book. But then again, I’m a children’s writer, so maybe that doesn’t count. Sure, me and that 17-year-old are getting something completely different out of a novel than a 7-year-old might be getting, but that’s the beauty of the written word.

I’m tempted, given this divide, to just label my own books as for “ages 7 and up.” But that’s the difficult answer, because it doesn’t fly in a bookstore.

The Tween Adventure audio CD workshop by Christopher P. N. Maselli

Learn how to reach tweens like never before!

Truth be told, in the end, I embrace writing specifically for the “middle grade” genre. It gives me something to shoot for as an author. I know if I write a book targeted at 8-12-year-olds, I’ll hit my mark. I write what interests them, in a language that speaks to them, but invite anyone who wants a good adventure story that packs a punch to pick up the book.

(By the way, if you want to write for middle graders, you might enjoy my audio CD workshop, The Tween Adventure, where I talk a lot about this.)

So if you’re looking for a good, action-packed middle-grade novel with a solid moral message you can trust, then you’ve come to the right place. That’s who I write books for. Well, them and anyone else who enjoys a fun read.

Photo: Teens & Tweens Party by Franklin Park Library.

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