Monday, April 11, 2011

Trends in MG

by Jemi Fraser

Trends, trends, trends.

What's going to be next? ... What's hot right now? ... Should I write to trends?

Who knows? ... Varies, depending on who you ask. ... No.

But, it is always interesting to see what your prospective audience is reading. If you find trends over the years in the same audience, you might see something useful.

For years, I've taught middle and upper elementary school—grades 5 - 8. The kids are 10 to 14 in this age group. For the most part, they love to read. I tell them the first day of school that they'll love reading in no time. They always prove me right.

So, what trends do I see? It changes, but here's what's hot in my class (Grade 5/6) in MG this year.

Humour. Kids love to laugh. They like different kinds of humour too: jokes, small smile humour, giggle inducers, I-wouldn't-want-that-to-happen-to-me humour, and laugh-out-loud-until-you-cry humour.

Big hits this year: Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Big Nate, Dear Dumb Diary (these are all series which totally supports Cat's discoveries at SCBWI!)

Mysteries. Kids love to solve mysteries—love to put together the clues to see if they can figure it out before the main characters. Detective and spy stories are popular.

Big hits of the year: Treasure of Turtle Lake, Alex Rider series

Adventure. This is the most popular genre by far in my classroom this year. Kids love to imagine themselves being heroes, participating in adventures. They like big, outrageous adventures that could never happen. They love adventures that happened long ago and those that happen in other worlds. They adore adventure that is something they could actually do under the right circumstances.

Big hits of the year: Dogsled Dreams, Ranger's Apprentice, Lightning Thief, Golden Compass, The Divide, anything by Gary Paulsen. Some of these books are fantasy as well, but the kids tell me the adventure part is why they like them the most.

So, those are the MG trends I'm seeing so far this year.

Are you seeing similar trends? Any suggestions for books my students might like?

37 comments:

Andrea Mack said...

Interesting. I think of humor and adventure more as being staples of MG, since kids always seem to be hooked by a good funny book or a good adventure. But it's always hard to find a good MG mystery, so I hope that is a new trend! We could definitely use more of those.

Jemi Fraser said...

Andrea - I think mysteries are becoming more popular. Several of my students are reading Nancy Drew books right now. I think modern mysteries could sell really well right now - at least in my class!

Michael Di Gesu said...

I know I always loved a good mystery as a kid. My first novel, which I am currently querying is and MG fantasy mystery of sorts. I hope these trends continue...

Josh Hoyt said...

I always loved reading fantasy. It was so nice to get away from it all. It would be nice to have a magic ball and see the trends but truthfully if we write what we love and love what we write then does it really matter?

Riley Redgate said...

Awesome to know! I have an MG adventure waiting to be edited. Must bump it up on the priority list... =P

Susanne Drazic said...

Hi, Jemi. I stopped by to check out your guest post, which I thought was very good. Have an AWESOME day!

Jemi Fraser said...

Michael - I hope so too! I think MG kids will always enjoy adventures and fantasy, so I think you're good!! :)

Jemi Fraser said...

Josh - I agree completely! I think our passion for our stories comes through in our writing and that makes the story the strongest it can be. What could be better? :)

Jemi Fraser said...

Riley - perfect! Adventure is ALWAYS popular in my classroom - your story should work very well! :)

Jemi Fraser said...

Susanne - thanks so much! You're a sweetie! I appreciate you stopping by to visit :)

cherie said...

Jemi, great post! Nice to know what's popular among middle graders. I remember reading a lot of Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys when I was a 6th grader. ;)

Belle Wong said...

This is a great post, Jemi. When I was that age, I really loved fantasy and mysteries, and I've never stopped reading children's fantasy and mystery. It's been difficult, actually, finding good MG mysteries. Have your students read Melanie Jackson's Dinah Galloway mystery series? I love them, and would like to find more series like them!

It's interesting, too, that your kids say it's the adventure part of the fantasies they like.

Jemi Fraser said...

Cherie - thanks! :)

I loved both Nancy & the Boys when I was that age too. In fact those books are still popular with the kids!

Jemi Fraser said...

Belle - thanks! I actually don't have any of Melanie Jackson's series in my room. I will have to fix that up quickly! Thanks so much for the tip :)

Mary said...

I always have students asking for mysteries (and romance--8th grade girls LUV love!) --Lois Duncan is a big hit. And I've seen the same trends, though I do have a pile who are in love with everything paranormal.

I'm introducing them to the world of dystopians next week (some but not all have read The Hunger Games but never ventured farther into them). Can't wait!!

Great post, Jemi!

Jemi Fraser said...

Mary - thanks! :)

Grade 8s are definitely more into the romance stories than grade 6s! And there are so many good ones to choose from these days!

I have a lot of Lois Duncan's books in my room - but they're beyond the emotional interest level of most of my kids. When I teach grade 8 they do get snapped up!

Love dystopians - your kids will love them too!

Ella Schwartz said...

My son is an avid reader. His favorites: Anything by Rick Riordan, The 39 Clues series, The Beyonders Series, and Harry Potter (of course).

Jemi Fraser said...

Ella - Rick Riordan is a HUGE hit in my classroom - and a few of the kids enjoy the 39 Clues series too. And of course Harry Potter (what a great series!!). I don't know the Beyonders though - I'll have to check that one out - thanks for the tip! :)

Susan Fields said...

I'm so glad to hear Dogsled Dreams is a hit in your classroom! I read it with my kids and we all really enjoyed it. We also really like Ranger's Apprentice. I'll have to check out The Divide.

Jemi Fraser said...

Susan - Dogsled Dreams is one of the big hits of the year - the kids loved it (I read it aloud to them)!

I hadn't read Ranger's Apprentice until this year - it is an amazing series - full of adventure and suspense and fun!

Lisa Gail Green said...

Awesome!! My son falls in that category and he LOVES fantasy/Sci-fi and humor. A combination of the above? He's in heaven. :D

Jemi Fraser said...

Lisa - thanks! I've got a few students who sound pretty much like your son as a reader. One of my boys had read everything in the Warrior and Redwall series and the other is gobbling up the Divide series! :)

Luce said...

Hey, Jemi--

I love, love, LOVE M.T. Anderson's MG series: WHALES ON STILTS, THE CLUE OF THE LINOLEUM LEDERHOSEN, and JASPER DASH AND THE FLAME PITS OF DELAWARE.

I don't know how he manages it, but he mixes absurd, goofy, satiric, and emotionally-touching moments, and the illustrations make me howl.

And I adored Pullman's HIS DARK MATERIALS. Gorgeous and heartbreaking and amazing.

Jemi Fraser said...

Luce - you're right! MT Anderson is fabulous! He's brilliant and hilarious! :)

Pullman has been really popular with some of my kids this year. Again! I adore his series as well!

Tara said...

Thought I was following here?! I've certainly been hanging out. I love the place. Following now.

This post was fantastic. What great insight for YA writers.

Cynthia Chapman Willis said...

What a great post, Jemi! I love reading anything from a teacher's perspective. Thank you for this.

Mindy McGinnis said...

I like to tell my kids that claim they don't like to read that they just haven't found the right book yet.

Jemi Fraser said...

Tara - thanks! So glad you enjoyed it and the blog too! It's so much fun to work with so many talented folks! :)

Jemi Fraser said...

Cynthia - thank you! It's always fun to hear about everything from other perspectives - glad you enjoyed :)

Jemi Fraser said...

Mindy - exactly!! Some of the books I listed have definitely been those 'right books' for kids this year. There are always a few! :)

Caroline Starr Rose said...

One trend I'm attune to (maybe because it affects my work) is the inclusion of children with learning disabilities and neuro-developmental disorders in a lot of new releases/soon-to-be-published books. Here's to hoping kids with physical disabilities will also become a regular part of children's literature.

Jemi Fraser said...

Caroline - you're right - I have seen more books with kids with disabilities & disorders too. You're so right - I hope this trend is here to stay. All kids need to represented in books!

Kari Marie said...

Awesome information Jemi - I'm a bit late to the party, but I'm so glad I stopped by.

Jemi Fraser said...

Kari - me too!! Thanks - I appreciate the vote of confidence :)

Janet, said...

I've always heard kids love adventure, mysteries and humor! I don't think they ever go out of style. At least, I hope not.

Jemi Fraser said...

Janet - I agree! They really are such wonderful genres! When kids get into those genres they often become life long readers :)

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