Even Adults Need A Little Wonder

“Middle-grade books have become a booming category, fueled in part by adult fans who read “Harry Potter” and fell in love with the genre”– Alexandra Alter, The Wall Street Journal – “See Grown-Ups Read”

Writing for Middle Grade may seem like a very narrow age group to try and reach. After all, it only has a window of about four years for authors to target. But there is a growing trend of adults reading MG literature. An article in The Wall Street Journal entitled “See Grown-Ups Read” examines this phenomena by highlighting, in particular, the New York Times best seller “Wonder,” written by R.J. Palacio. 
 “She wrote the novel-the story of a 10-year-old boy with a horrible facial disfigurement who struggles to fit in-with a middle-school reader in mind… ‘I wrote something I thought a fifth-grader would like, with short chapters, lots of action, sentences that weren’t too complicated,’ she says” (Alter).

Wonder was intended for middle grade, but the audience reach was further than imagined. The fan base consisted of middle readers, parents, librarians, teachers, and single adults reading it for themselves. “Fans of Wonder say it defies categorization” (Alter).
 This trend is not exclusive to Wonder. Alter states that “Middle-grade books have become a booming category, fueled in part by adult fans who read Harry Potter and fell in love with the genre.”

By writing for MG audiences, authors have the ability to reach young and old with their work, broadening their markets as adults are willing to reach for stereotypically “children’s” literature. It is easy to alienate children from your audience with controversial or mature subject matter.  However, if one writes a charming and impactful piece intended for middle grade, you may be surprised by the variety of people who pick up your book.




One thought on “Even Adults Need A Little Wonder

  1. alivalerio February 19, 2015 / 4:35 am

    I loved your post, and I love stories like this. I’m sure there are challenges in writing middle grade fiction that writers in other genres don’t face. The boundaries are more defined, and the competition for children’s literature is fierce right now. But I agree completely with your last statement. Just because the subject matter isn’t like that of more adult material, it still has great potential to be mature (if it wants to be) and meaningful. Mostly, I think it can just be so much fun. It might be strange to hear about adults reading “children’s literature” (and I know there was another post about adults reading more YA books as well), but I think it helps to think of popular films because the idea is very similar. There are films out there by Disney and family-oriented studios that really are fun for the whole family; they resonate with audiences of all ages It’s not so different for books, just a different platform.


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