I want to read more middle grade this year. Middle grade used to make up the bulk of my reading. I loved the complex stories coupled with character development that simultaneously addressed and shielded me from the complexities of the world. Middle grade felt like a safe space in a way that YA never did. In a way that YA never does. I know it isn’t true.
Middle grade has always been as complicated, harrowing, and heartbreaking as any piece of YA literature. And just because the characters are younger, it doesn’t make their lives any less vulnerable to the real world. So while I know that middle grade is no more safe a space than YA, it really did feel that way.
When I think back on the middle grade authors that I loved, those I still love, like Judy Blume, Richard Peck, and E. L. Konigsburg, they were taking chances in a time and a world far less accepting than the one in which we now live. They addressed socioeconomic disparity, bullying, sexuality, racism, death, misogyny, unrequited love, disability awareness . . . I could keep going, but the picture is clear. Although, I am far less likely to encounter a love triangle, and that is not an insignificant thing. With all of that in mind, here’s to more middle grade.
Here are just a few middle grade title on my radar in 2019: