What is middle grade?
In the publishing world, middle grade usually refers to books for ages 8-12. However, most publishers like to divide it out further by adding ages 10-14 for upper middle grade to young adult. Many middle grade novels are also considered young adult like the Harry Potter Series. The Harry Potter books are a great example of a series that moves from middle grade to young adult. The main character in a middle grade novel is usually 12 years old or younger. However, sometimes the main character is 12 years old, and the novel fits closer into the young adult category. Many Newbery winners fit into the middle grade category. Early Readers and Chapter books are not considered middle grade, but fit into a category of their own.
When is my child ready for middle grade?
The beauty of middle grade is that even younger children are ready to listen to a middle grade book before the age of eight. As far as reading middle grade on their own, there are a lot of middle grade novels written for lower middle grade. These tend to be 100 pages or less. When your child has mastered the chapter book and is looking for a new challenge, it is time to move up. I don't put an age on that. I have known 8 year olds that are ready for books beyond 100 pages and are reading far beyond their age. I have also known 8 year olds that are struggling to move past the chapter book. Even for those that struggle reading the chapter book, it is still a great idea to introduce them to some of the classic middle grade literature like Stuart Little or Frindle.
Many 10 year olds are ready for the upper middle grade like the Fablehaven series.
Most importantly, don't put limitations on your child. Let them read whatever they want and provide them with good books.
Coming soon: Book lists for middle grade.