• From the Mixed-Up Files... > Miscellaneous > Differences Between Middle Grade and Young Adult
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    April 11, 2014:
    Fall 2014 Children's Sneak Peek
    A peek at forthcoming middle grade books (as well as picture books and YA books) in a round-up from Publisher's Weekly. First printed in the February 22 issue, but now available online. Time to add to your to-read list. Read more ...

    April 9, 2014:
    How many Newbery winners have you read?
    You could make a traditional list of all the Newbery Medal Award-winning Children's Books you've read, but there's something so satisfying when you check them off and get a final tally on this BuzzFeed quiz. Read more ...

    March 28, 2014:
    Middle Grade fiction is hot at 2014 Bologna Children's Book Fair

    For the second year in a row, publishers are clamoring for middle-grade, reporters Publishers Weekly. "I’ve been coming [to Bologna] for 12 to 15 years, and I’ve never had as many European publishers asking for middle-grade," said Steven Chudney of the Chudney Agency. Read more ...

    February 14, 2014:
    Cybils Awards announced
    Ultra by David Carroll (Scholastic Canada) wins the Cybil for middle grade fiction; Lockwood & Co: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud (Disney Hyperion) wins for Speculative Fiction. Read more.

    January 27, 2014: And the Newbery Medal goes to ...
    Kate DiCamillo won the Newbery Medal for "Flora & Ulysses"; Rita Williams-Garcia won the Coretta Scott King Author award for "P.S. Be Eleven." Newbery Honor awards to authors Vince Vawter, Amy Timberlake, Kevin Henkes and Holly Black. For all the exciting ALA Youth Media Award News ... READ MORE

    November 12, 2013:
    Vote in the GoodReads semifinal round

    Readers' votes have narrowed the middle-grade semifinals down to 20 titles. Log in to your GoodReads account and vote for your favorite middle-grade (and in other categories, of course). Read more ...

    November 9, 2013:
    Publishers Weekly Top Children's Books of 2013

    Middle-grade and young adult titles selected by the editors of Publishers Weekly as their top picks of the year. Let the season of "top ten books" begin! Read more ...

    October 14, 2013:
    Middle Shelf: Cool Reads for Kids debuts January 2014

    Shelf Media Group, publisher of Shelf Unbound indie book review magazine, will launch a new free digital-only publication for middle-grade readers. The debut issue features interviews with such notable authors as Margaret Peterson Haddix and Chris Grabenstein as well as reviews, excerpts, and more. Middle Shelf will be published bi-monthly beginning in January 2014.
    Read more ...

    September 19, 2013: Writer-in-Residence program at Thurber House

    Dream of time and space to focus on your own writing project? Applications now being accepted (11/1/2013 deadline) for The Thurber House Residency in Children's Literature, a month-long retreat in the furnished third-floor apartment of Thurber House in Columbus, Ohio. Read more ...

    September 18, 2013: Vermont College of Fine Arts Scholarship opportunity

    Barry Goldblatt Literary launches The Angela Johnson Scholarship, a talent-based grant for writers of color attending the MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults program at VCFA. Up to two $5,000 grants will be awarded each year. Read more ....

    September 16, 2013:
    National Book Awards longlist for youth literature

    For the first time, the NBA is presenting lists of 10 books/authors on the longlist in each category. The 2013 young adult literature list includes five middle grade novels and five YA. Read more ...

    Sept. 13, 2013: Spring preview
    Check out Publishers Weekly roundup of upcoming children's books to be published in spring 2014. Read more...

    August 21, 2013:
    Want to be a Cybils Award Judge?

    Middle grade categories are fiction, speculative fiction, nonfiction. Applications due August 31! Read more ...

    August 19, 2013:
    S&S and BN reach a deal
    Readers will soon be able to find books from Simon & Schuster at Barnes & Noble. The bookstore chain was locked in a disagreement with the publisher over how much it was willing to pay for books. Read more ...

    August 6, 2013:
    NPR's 100 Must-Reads for Kids
    NPR's Backseat Book Club asked listeners to nominate their favorite books for readers ages 9 to 14. More than 2,000 people nominated titles, and a panel of Newbery authors brought the list to 100. Most are middle grade books. Read more ...

     
    July 2, 2013:
    Penguin & Random House Merger

    The new company, Penguin Random House, will control more than 25 percent of the trade book market in the United States. On Monday, the newly formed company began to take shape, only hours after a middle-of-the-night announcement that the long-planned merger had been completed. Read more ...

    March 28, 2013: Big at Bologna

     This year at the Bologna Children's Book Fair, the focus has shifted to middle-grade.  “A lot of foreign publishers are cutting back on YA and are looking for middle-grade,” said agent Laura Langlie, according to Publisher's Weekly.  Lighly illustrated or stand-alone contemporary middle-grade fiction is getting the most attention.  Read more...

     

    March 10, 2013: Marching to New Titles

    Check out these titles releasing in March...

     

    March 5, 2013: Catch the BEA Buzz

    Titles for BEA's Editor Buzz panels have been announced.  The middle-grade titles selected are:

    A Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates #1: Magic Marks the Spot by Caroline Carlson

    Counting By 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

    The Fantastic Family Whipple by Matthew Ward

    Nick and Tesla's High-Voltages Danger Lab by Bob Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith

    The Tie Fetch by Amy Herrick

    For more Buzz books in other categories, read more...

     

    February 20, 2013: Lunching at the MG Roundtable 

    Earlier this month, MG authors Jeanne Birdsall, Rebecca Stead, and N.D. Wilson shared insight about writing for the middle grades at an informal luncheon with librarians held in conjunction with the New York Public Library's Children's Literary Salon "Middle Grade: Surviving the Onslaught."

    Read about their thoughts...

     

    February 10, 2013: New Books to Love

    Check out these new titles releasing in February...

     

    January 28, 2013: Ivan Tops List of Winners

    The American Library Association today honored the best of the best from 2012, announcing the winners of the Newbery, Caldecott, and Printz awards, along with a host of other prestigious youth media awards, at their annual winter meeting in Seattle.

    The Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature went to The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. Honor books were: Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz; Bomb: The Race to Build--and Steal--the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin; and Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage.

    The Coretta Scott King Book Award went to Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America written by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Brian Pinkney.

    The Laura Ingalls Wilder Award,which honors an author for his or her long-standing contributions to children’s literature, was presented to Katherine Paterson.

    The Pura Belpre Author Award, which honors a Latino author, went to Benjamin Alire Saenz for his novel Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, which was also named a Printz Honor book and won the Stonewall Book Award for its portrayal of the GLBT experience.

    For a complete list of winners…

     

    January 22, 2013: Biography Wins Sydney Taylor

    Louise Borden's His Name Was Raoul Wallenberg, a verse biography of the Swedish humanitarian, has won the Sydney Taylor Award in the middle-grade category. The award is given annually to books of the highest literary merit that highlight the Jewish experience. Aimee Lurie, chair of the awards committee, writes, "Louise Borden's well-researched biography will, without a doubt, inspire children to perform acts of kindness and speak out against oppression."

    For more...

     

    January 17, 2013: Erdrich Wins Second O'Dell

    Louise Erdrich is recipient of the 2013 Scott O'Dell Award for her historical novel Chickadee, the fourth book in herBirchbark House series. Roger Sutton,Horn Book editor and chair of the awards committee, says of Chickadee,"The book has humor and suspense (and disarmingly simple pencil illustrations by the author), providing a picture of 1860s Anishinabe life that is never didactic or exotic and is briskly detailed with the kind of information young readers enjoy." Erdrich also won the O'Dell Award in 2006 for The Game of Silence, the second book in theBirchbark series. 

    For more...

     

    January 15, 2013: After the Call

    Past Newbery winners Jack Gantos, Clare Vanderpool, Neil Gaiman, Rebecca Stead, and Laura Amy Schlitz talk about how winning the Newbery changed (or didn't change) their lives in this piece from Publishers Weekly...

     

    January 2, 2013: On the Big Screen

    One of our Mixed-up Files members may be headed to the movies! Jennifer Nielsen's fantasy adventure novel The False Prince is being adapted for Paramount Pictures by Bryan Cogman, story editor for HBO's Game of Thrones. For more...

     

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Differences Between Middle Grade and Young Adult

Miscellaneous, Writing MG Books

The Wikipedia definition of Young Adult Fiction is, fiction marketed to adolescents and young adults, roughly ages 14 to 21. The vast majority of YA stories portray an adolescent as the protagonist, rather than an adult or a child. The subject matter and story lines are typically consistent with the

The Lovely Bones

A YA in which a 14-year-old is the protagonist

 age and experience of the main character, but beyond that YA stories span the entire spectrum of fiction genres.

If you look for the Wikipedia definition for Middle Grade fiction, you won’t find one.

Some of the defining points between MG and YA are the age of the protagonist, intended audience, subject matter, and word count.

Age of the protagonist and intended audience:  Typically, middle grade is intended for readers ages 8-12, with the protagonist at the higher end of the age range.  The reason for this:  while an 8-year-old would have no problem reading about a 12-year-old protagonist, a 12-year-old may be reluctant to read a book about an 8-

Dork Diaries

Dork Diaries is an MG with a 14-year-old protagonist

year-old.

Subject Matter: MG readers are learning about who they are, what they think, and where they fit in. They do well with books they can relate to. They are still focused inward and the conflicts in MG books usually reflect this. The themes can range from school situations, friendships, relationships with peers and siblings, and daily difficulties that may seem ordinary to the rest of us. The parents are usually seen and have some sort of an influence. Kids at this age are also easily distracted,  so you want a faster pace and short chapters.

Young Adult novels deals with underlying themes and more complicated

Harry Potter

JK Rowling was an exception and a success

plots. It allows teens to examine deeper issues, what their role in life is, the differences a person can make, the importance of relationships, coping with tragedy, etc.  Protagonists are usually searching for their identity, figuring out who they are as an individual and where they fit in. These books generally are more gritty and realistic and the teens choices and actions drive the story. You see less parental influence.
Word Count:  Middle Grade used to be 20,000-40,000 words, some say around 50,000 words.

Young Adult is generally more around 55,000 to 80,000 words.

Exceptions:  So while there are defining differences, there are also exceptions. 

Harry Potter and the Twilight series definitely exceeded the word count.

The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold has a fourteen-year-old protagonist in what is considered a higher end YA or even adult novel.

Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish, although intended for a much younger audience, the protagonist is an adult, a literal

Amelia Bedelia
An adult protagonist? It works well here!

 –minded housekeeper, and it definitely works for this series, making it a fun classic!

And what about those hybrid graphic novels that are so hot right now? I’m betting those fall under the normal word count, making room for all the illustrations.

With so many cross-over genre books for these age-ranges, there’s something for everyone to read and write. What differences do you notice most in MG and YA?

 

 

Rose Cooper is an author and illustrator with Random House Publishing. Her upcoming middle-grade humor series, Gossip from the Girls’ Room, A Blogtastic! Novel, will be published  January 11, 2011. Be sure to snoop out Rose’s website at www.Rose-Cooper.com.

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Karen Scott  •  Oct 4, 2010 @1:15 pm

    I think some of the difference I’ve noticed over the last few years involves the intricacy of plot (much more complex issues — political, relationships, effective world-building for fantasy for YA). Of course, the love stories are also very different. MG can still have puppy love, tug at your heartstrings kind of love stories — much more innocence than fire. But the YA today is all fire when it comes to romance!

  2. Natalie Aguirre  •  Oct 4, 2010 @7:34 pm

    I agree with your differences. I think there are some books like Harry Potter, or The Red Pyramid or Janice Hardy’s The Shifter, that are upper middle grade books. They are a little more serious than those for 8-9 year old kids, but not as old and full of romance as YA books.

  3. Margaret Nevinski  •  Oct 5, 2010 @11:45 am

    Rose, this is a good breakdown. I think another differentiating factor between YA and MG is voice, with YA protagonists often having a sassy or sarcastic voice. POV might be another factor. A lot of successful YA novels are in 1st person, reflecting that sense of identity you talked about.

  4. Amber Keyser  •  Oct 7, 2010 @11:09 am

    I think that MG protagonists are often trying to figure out who they are and how they fit into their world against a background of family. YA protagonists are trying to figure the transition into adulthood.

  5. Backlinks  •  Oct 10, 2010 @3:31 pm

    I am extremely impressed with your writing skills and also with the layout on your blog. Is this a paid theme or did you customize it yourself? Either way keep up the nice quality writing, it’s rare to see a nice blog like this one these days.. :)

  6. karen Hallam  •  Jan 24, 2011 @1:54 pm

    I am still unsure if my almost 13 year old protagonist is for YA or MG audiences. My word count is at 80,000–though it is a mystery, somewhat paranormal fiction. I’ve had several adult readers say they liked it too. There is political and unpopular beliefs within the story as well.