I am considered a super 100% legal adult, and I still read middle-grade books. Even though I am expected to be moving from Young Adult to full fledge adult books I still find myself falling into the stories dedicated to middle-grade readers. At first, I felt a bit self-conscious, but now I have embraced it because of there amazing middle-grade stories out there (better than some YA and adult books)
Take Harry Potter for example. The first half of the series is considered middle-grade and as Harry grows up (alongside the reader) the books start containing more mature themes that the older audience will grasp quicker than a child.
Some of my favorite books are actually considered middle-grade books…what does that say about me? That I am a child..? You see, the reason I love middle-grade stories is that most of the lead characters are selfless. Most of the time their goal is to help someone else out rather than accomplishing a personal goal. Sure you can argue “Percy Jackson went on an adventure to restore Zeus’ lightning bolt because he did not want to die!” And while I do agree with that statement, he also did it to save his mom. Then he realized he was not only saving his mom, but in part his dad, and saving his new friends.
It has to do with the concept of innocence and growth. As a child our worries were minuscule and we felt unbeatable because the concept of death was still something that only happens in films. Middle-grade stories are filled with characters who have a clean slate and do not carry so much baggage. You watch these characters obtain their baggage as you step into their world, and you see the beginning of their development.
Whenever we start a new book that is above the middle-grade genre, you have to learn about the character’s baggage. You have to learn why a character behaves a certain way and makes decisions the way they do. While the mystery behind it may be exciting, the whole experience of it is different.
I am currently reading, The School of Good and Evil by Soman Chainani. It is the first middle grade I have read in a long while where the characters are below the age of sixteen. As I read the book it made me realize how clean the character’s slates are. Our two main characters’ current goals are so simple ( I know it will become more complex), but their starting goals are as easy as 2+2 = 4. Sophie want to go to magical school to learn how to become a princess, while Agatha (her best friend) does not want Sophie to be taken away because it means losing her only friend.
How simple and clean is that? Of course, you will see that there is a lot more to the story as you read, but from the start, you see how innocent their goals are. It takes me back to a time where my only goals were figuring out how to please my parents so they give me extra internet hours.
As a reader, I feel it is important to read children stories and remind ourselves that some things can be simple and clean. It is important because it reminds ourselves how to have fun on simple matters. It is important because it reminds ourselves to be a kid again.
And as a parent, it reminds us that children are actually quite simple…until hormones kick in.
If you want to feel like a baggage-free child that does not have a million and one things on their plate try checking out some of these middle-grade stories.