I love middle-grade readers. Though everyone’s basic personality is formed by five years old, they say, reading habits are formed at this stage, I think. I really have no psychological data to support that assumption, but it’s surely plausible.
These kids just learned how to read. They’re getting better at it every day, and they need material to “practice” with. If you give them interesting topics that they can really get into, they’re more likely to pick up that book or magazine and they’re more likely to keep reading.
So, what’s interesting to middle-grade readers?
In terms of nonfiction, think amazing factoids. What’s something that ordinary people don’t know about something familiar? Here are some things that might qualify:
- Did you know that the word “almost” is the longest word in the English language that has all its letters in alphabetical order?
- The only mammal in existence that can’t jump is… the elephant!
- More people are allergic to cow’s milk than any other food.
- Slugs have four noses
- One in twenty people have an extra rib
You can write an article for middle-grade readers that includes any of those and they’ll love it!
They’re also collectors, so writing a series of books works better for them than any other reading group. A book about collecting anything or about someone who collects things could be a smash hit! And they love funny. Actually, the funnier the better.
Try looking at the world from a new perspective. Turn things upside down, as Louis Sachar did in his Sideways Stories from Wayside School. Kids love that. So, make the animals the “family” and the family the pets. Or, think about what it would be like for a 10-year-old kid to be mayor of the town. Create characters and situations that would be totally bass ackwards and you’ve got the beginnings of a plot.
Anyway, giving kids this age topics and situations that they can enjoy and learn from at the same time are tops. And if you get them reading, you’ve done your job.