If I were to guess, you probably think Middle-Grade Lit went out of style as soon as you became the lowest end of the high school totem pole. In our quests to be cooler and act older, we often leave behind the relics of our past– even the literary ones.
What you might have forgotten is how fun, lesson-packed, and dynamic the books from your middle school years were. As they are carefully catered to engage the imaginative and youthful minds that pick them up, they are full of life and colorful in their characters. They are also relevant to their readers’ stage of life, which means they speak to discovering yourself, learning how to treat others, and deciding how to face the challenges this world has to offer. We grow to think that we age past the need for such lessons, but I once read somewhere that we never really leave our childhood behind, that we are all merely kids pretending to be adults.
Knowing this, we don’t have to let go of the books we really want to read before we are ready. In fact, it’s okay to jump back to that age group and enjoy the odd Middle-Grade Lit book once in a while.
One of the best out there is The False Prince by Jennifer Nielsen. The author doesn’t have the most followers on social media, and the book has never been adapted to the screen (though I think it should be). I first found this novel at a book fair years ago and since then, the five-book series has had a hold on me. It knows middle schoolers are smart and weaves deceit into the intelligent plot and secretive characters. Set in a kingdom with mixed feelings about the royal family and power-hungry people ready to take the throne themselves, it’s the perfect fantasy world to jump into when you want a sarcastic main character to show you the way through his complicated world. Because of Nielsen’s talented writing and incredible use of character, I have jumped back to The False Prince as a comfort book since I first opened it.
Middle-Grade books have the power to both remind us of who we used to be and that we are not all that far from our younger selves. We are still learning and becoming the next version of ourselves. Once you meet Sage and the many sides to his story, you’ll be that much more empowered to understand your own.