Books!, Discussion, Reading Challenge, Signal Boost

Discussion: Recommended Age Ranges

Hey all, Dani here.

I am so ready for the weekend. I’m tired of having to go in to work, and worrying because there are so many people who are disregarding the mandate to stay 6 feet apart from each other, and I’ve seen some people sneaking past the mandatory temperature check areas. It’s immensely stressful to know that so many co-workers simply disregard the precautions that have been set in place to try and limit contact and exposure. I have heard so many people talk about how this is all a hoax and none of it is real. Over 20,000 people are dead worldwide, and this is a hoax? Like I’m honestly starting to hope that we just go on a complete lockdown. It feels so much safer to not go into work and just stay at home. I just keep holding on to the belief that eventually it will get better. It has to get better.

Okay, so I have had this planned since before Middle Grade March started, because I was trying to come up with some discussion topics and recommendation posts that would fit the theme of my reading challenge for this month. And even though I shifted the focus of my blog to try and signal boost the newly released and upcoming release books and authors, I still wanted to have a discussion about the recommended age range for readers, or the target audience for books.

I read so widely that I don’t exactly pay attention to that aspect of choosing books. So what if a Middle Grade is for ages 8-12, so what if Young Adult is 13-18, so what if so-called adult Fantasy/Sci-Fi is intended for 18+. Those are recommendations and not requirements.

I feel like a reader knows what sort of stories they like and that enjoy, and we’re going to enjoy them regardless of our age or the book’s target age.

Of course, I do also feel that a parent has a duty and a responsibility to monitor and restrict what their child can read within reason. I was lucky in the fact that my mom was a part-time librarian and a reader, and she checked in with me on my reading and comprehension progress. And because she knew me and my capabilities, and because we had open discussion whenever I didn’t understand something, she signed off on me being able to access the so-called adult section of our library when I was like 8 or 9.

But honestly the age range on books is both due to character age level and reader comprehension level. For the most part readers tend to relate to characters that are of a similar age. That’s one reason why having these age range designations on books can be helpful. But it also targets the reader’s comprehension level, and an average reader of that age range should be able to easily understand the concepts and terminology of the book.

There might be an 8-year-old kid out there who has a 10th grade comprehension level (typically students in the 15-16 year age range). There might be a 14 year old who has some difficulties with reading comprehension and so only reads at a 7th grade (12-13 year age range). People are so diverse and we learn at different rates and there is nothing wrong with that.

I read Middle Grade when I want a wonderful adventure story filled with whimsy and friendship. I find this age range of novels to be amazing and so imaginative and creative and magical. Younger minds can so easily suspend that disbelief and just go along with the magic or oddities in the stories they read. I just really love picking up Middle Grade stories.

When I was growing up, the library had a children’s section which had board and picture books and then early chapter books, and then from there they had a rather small area of older kid chapter books, and then there was the so-called adult section. Middle Grade and Young Adult just weren’t popular book types at that time. But then I started to see the Teen section grow, particular as I reached high school. Heck, it was in the summer between my first and second year at university that I first discovered Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. Being a fan of stories about mythology, I picked it up. It was shelved in the Teen section at the time, though it is clearly a Middle Grade novel, but still. I was hooked. It was such a good story!

I read Young Adult because so many of them are about figuring out who you are and who you’re supposed to be, and figuring out what you want to do in the years ahead. Plus, there’s usually a lot of angst and drama. I definitely read these books for the entertainment factor. These books are teeming with hormones and relationship struggles and yes, okay, fine, there’s still usually plenty of paranormal or fantasy or science-fiction elements as well. I find that there’s an easy to reading YA that I don’t quite find in the so-called adult section. This age range bridges that gap between younger readers and older readers, and so frankly I find that this area has the most overlap in readers.

Don’t get me wrong though: both Middle Grade and Young Adult can and do cover some deep and intense topics, and they do it in a way that is generally quite approachable and easier to digest. It’s impressive, and I’m in awe of people who can present the information in that way.

I read so-called adult books because they can blur the lines and get complicated in a way that is a bit more difficult for the other age ranges. These books can go deeper and darker into topics, but that also means that these books can be less approachable for some readers.

I can’t really say that it has anything to do with length, because I have seen 600 page Middle Grade and Young Adult novels. Though I can’t recall any of the younger age ranges having 1000-1400 page books like the so-called adult books do.

So maybe I’m reading all of the Middle Grade and Young Adult books now because I didn’t get that when I was younger. Or maybe all that matters is that I find the stories to be enjoyable. All I know is that I read a plethora of books from all sorts of age ranges and genres, and I’m perfectly happy enjoying my stories.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic as well, so let’s chat in the comments. That is all from me for today, but I will be back tomorrow with more bookish content.

14 thoughts on “Discussion: Recommended Age Ranges”

  1. I usually prefer adult novels. Probably because, like you said, it’s easier for readers to connect with characters their age. But I do pick up young adult every once in awhile. If the premise really hooks me, I’ll pick it up. Like Neil Shusterman’s Unwind series. I’m not a YA reader usually, but WOW, Unwind is one of the best novels I’ve ever read in my life. It definitely covers a lot of deep topics. Shusterman doesn’t keep it light just because it’s for teens. He leans into all of the existential horror.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Perfect timing for this post! I’m preparing to launch my most recent book, but am trying to decide where it fits. It’s a medieval-ish dragon fantasy with a 7 year old protagonist and elements that fit in both mid-grade and YA, but neither exclusively. I’m thinking of putting it out as a adult fantasy, with a note in the description “suitable for mid-grade – adult”. The cover clearly shows a little boy and his dragon, so an adult reader shouldn’t be too surprised. What do you think??

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    1. With a cover showing a little boy and a dragon, I would expect it to be in the children’s/young reader sections. But I don’t know enough about your book? Why do you believe it fits in Middle Grade? Likewise, why do you believe it fits in Young Adult?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for responding! I read an article that describes the characteristics of each, and the story simply doesn’t “fit” either one entirely. There are definitely some mature elements in the story, but nothing that disqualifies it from either group! Your reading habits corresponds to some things I’ve heard from others – that the age level of the book is less important than the story itself, and that many adults actually prefer to read books geared for a younger audience or with young characters. If this is true, I think marketing it as a adult title may be the best way to go.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh yes, and some with children younger than 10 who loved it! They enjoyed the book very much for the story it told without much concern for the main character’s age. My problem is marketing the book after publication. I’m assuming word will eventually filter down through reader reviews that the book is not exclusively for any certain age, and I guess that’s the best I can hope for.

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      3. Honestly, based on your main character’s age, I would classify it as Middle Grade. There are teens and adults who will read MG books, but many parents and adult guardians will likely have concerns about handing a so-called adult book to their 8 year old. Not all parents are as open and accepting as my own mother. But that’s just my opinion. You obviously have to make the decision you feel is best for your book.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh well, maybe next time! The book is entitled Rise of the Draman and should be out by the middle of next month – exclusively at Amazon. I would love to hear from you if you get the chance to read it. All the best, and thanks again!

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