So when I was a kid … (instantly imagines a creaky grandpa sitting in his rocking chair) … but seriously. When I was in early elementary and middle school in the 1990s, middle grade reads just didn’t exist. Harry Potter hadn’t attended Hogwart’s and awakened the world to this hole in the bookstore. Especially so if you lived in a tiny pin-dot of a town where the library brings in murder mystery and … well, that’s about all.
Of course we were read some Roald Dahl, Charlotte’s Web, and Beverly Cleary throughout upper elementary. And there was the Sweet Valley Highs, Full House books, and Goosebumps, but real middle grade, middle grade that talks about real kids, in a real-kid style of voice, and true adventures? Nope. Nadda.
I am so ridiculously happy that my girl gets to grow up in a world that has middle grade books. Books that show her kids that are thinking like her, speaking like her, and experiencing the same emotions. Most importantly they foster her imagination, a world of possibilities, and worlds full of adventure. A fundamentally important resource that we must foster in our children and ourselves. After all, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” You can’t argue with Albert Einstein … it’s gospel.
So what does this all have to do with the rest of us important all grown-up grown ups?
Well please let me tell you!
Reading middle grade allows you an excellent opportunity to see the world as your child sees the world. It gives you that birds eye view into what challenges “kids these days” are facing, how they are processing what is going on around them. Even more, it gives you a humbling look at how your kids are seeing you. I have truly learned so much more about myself by reading middle grade books aloud with my 8 year old. Those things you think you are covering up? Yeah, they see right through you. Those little lies you tell, thinking you are keeping them safe from the truth? Yeah, they see through that too.
So not only is this a fantastic way to bond with your child over something they like, you actually get to secretly snoop into their minds a bit while doing it! Without having to pester them and get back non answers regarding their feelings and challenges.
It gives you a framework to talk to your kids. And by lord Jesus, it is important to talk to your kids as human beings. With respect. The respect you’d like them to show you? You need to show them that too.
The whole walk a mile in someone else’s shoes thing? Middle grade books gives you a little glimpse into what your kids are walking through. It’s humbling and eye opening.
Middle grade books offer hope, happiness and acceptance in a world that could use a lot more. Basically … they are bloody fantastic!