As a librarian, I encounter a lot of young readers who want to read about characters older than they are, experiencing things they’re still anticipating. It’s alluring and educational all at once! Erin Bush wrote a terrific post here on The Hub about “cross-unders,” including a great list of teen books for tweens and insights on why younger readers might want to read “up.â€
YALSA’s Popular Paperback for Young Adults committee created another great resource for teens in search of transitional books in 2006 with the “Books that Won’t Make You Blush” list, and updated it this year with “More Books that Won’t Make You Blush.”
But for all the teens eager to read about characters a few years ahead of themselves, there are also those who prefer to stick with the tried-and-true. They’d rather read Harry Potter than The Hunger Games. These teens aren’t reluctant readers, and they’re not intimidated by the reading level of young adult books; they simply feel more at home with books aimed at a younger audience. They like middle grade literature.
I can identify with this, because I had a hard time getting out of the kids’ section of the library when I was a teen. I felt self-conscious browsing shelves clearly meant for a more mature audience. I had no idea what to read — I didn’t know any of the authors or the series. I had no idea what was considered “quality literature” versus something I might get in trouble for reading. (Even though my mom never actually policed what I read, I still worried about it!)
The line between middle grade and young adult literature is often blurred, and sometimes it’s just more comfortable for a new teen to stay on the middle grade side of things. Here’s a round-up of some middle grade books that I’ve noticed teens at my library enjoying: