Anyone who knows me or has read even a tiny bit of this blogs knows that I am big fan of reading and books. I read all sorts of things from fiction to memoir to chick lit. I am especially fond of children’s books. I love picture books, easy readers, early chapter books and middle grade. Typically when friends (or in the past, clients) talked to me about their children’s reading preferences, I would celebrate any book. “As long as they are reading”, I would say.
Therefore, I find it a bit ironic that lately, I have been having a very strong reaction to the New York Times Best Seller list. My anger is directed toward the middle grade list. I love middle grade books. For those of you who have been reading along with me, think recently to The Riverman, A Snicker of Magic, Under the Egg, Counting by 7s, The Real Boy and Paperboy. And think back to Wonder, Because of Mr. Terrupt, See You at Harry’s and Out of My Mind. There are some really amazing middle grade books out there right now.
So now, enter the New York Times Middle Grade Best Seller List. First, the good. Wonder, The One and Only Ivan and Flora and Ulysses are on the list and they’ve been on the list for a long time. There are a few titles that I have not read like Ever After High and A World Without Princes. I don’t read a lot of fantasy so I don’t know a lot about these books but I’ll just throw out there that a little research did reveal that Matel has a line of Ever After High dolls that look a tad scary. There’s also The Finisher by David Baldacci who is best selling adult author. Could be interesting. I wonder about the two books by Rush Limbaugh that are on the list. I have not read them and admit that I am letting pre-conceived notions impact my thoughts a bit but I do know that Rush is not a children’s author.
And then there is the number one best selling middle grade book. Frozen by RH Disney. And just in case you think that Walt Disney has a relative who is has brought the imaginative gene to literature don’t get too excited. The RH stands for Random House.
With all the amazing literature out there right now for middle grade readers, the number one selling book is a movie adaptation written by a publishing house. I have lots of goals in my life right now but I am starting to think that one of them needs to rise to the top. I have to find a way to connect parents and children to the remarkable children’s literature that exists today. There has to be a way to fight the commercialization of everything but most importantly literature. We wonder why children are not reading the way ‘they used to.’ Maybe it’s because they aren’t getting to the good stuff. Maybe it’s because the big money machines are putting books that are really movies in to their hands.
It’s hard to resist the joke that is sitting right in my hand so I’ve got to do it. I really don’t think this is a time when I should say “Let it Go”. I think this is a time to act. If you are a parent of a middle grade reader, please go out and buy some of the really good books that I listed above. Let’s change the current truth and celebrate the literature.