The range of MG books this or any year is immense. You’ll find literary masterpieces right next to silly bare thin plots. Both are needed. Book publishers do a good job of making sure their title list contains books for all groups.
As a teacher, mentor, and now a writer for this age group, I have observed three distinct types of readers 8 -13 years in age. Authors can take note of these categories, and if wide readership is what they’re pursuing they’d best have a fast moving story with intriguing characters.
INTENSE This reader devours books like a favorite meal. They know what they’re going to read next and the next one beyond that and the next one beyond that. Their library card has ruffled edges and bookshelves at home are stuffed full of their favorites. They gravitate toward books with vivid descriptions and they often become emotionally tied to a character, talking about this fictional person for days on end. Length of the story is of no concern and lights out time for this reader is often a long drawn out ordeal. They just have to read one more chapter. I’d estimate 15% of MG kids fit this description.
CASUAL This next young person enjoys reading, but it doesn’t overshadow their other activities. They’ll read a chapter or two per day, but no more. They like adventure type stories with humor but not ones that are filled with unnecessary backstory or dialog. If a story drags early they have no problem tossing it aside for something better. They follow trends and if something is popular they’re in. This category would make up the largest percentage of readers – around 75%.
ERRATIC The closest this girl or boy gets to a book is to use one for support of a wobbly table leg. They’ll only read if it is for homework or if parents make them read the dreaded one chapter per day. The book had better be funny with lots of action, drawings are a plus, and short chapters rule their world. Long descriptions will leave them bleary eyed. They can never find their library card much less want to visit one. When they do visit, their first stop is the DVD shelf. About one in ten kids fit this category… maybe more in your neck of the woods.
I was definitely in the CASUAL category during my growing up years. Now I read a wide variety of books to become a better writer and to find the best ones for kids. I have 8-10 books I hope to get to in July. Happy reading no matter what category you place yourself in.