A collection of interest resources for writing for the middle grades,
From the Mixed-Up Files…of Middle-Grade Authors
Their ‘goal is to bring awareness and enthusiasm and celebration to books for 8-12 year olds, creating a *home* for anyone and everyone who loves books for this Golden Age of Reading. ‘ The blog was started in 2010 by writers of middle-grade literature with the intention of getting middle school literature out of the shadow of Young Adult and into it’s own category. Their focus: “regularly updated book lists organized by unique categories, author interviews, market news, and a behind-the-scenes look at the making of a children’s book from writing to publishing to promoting.”
How to Write a Middle Grade Novel by Jenny Bowman
- readership : 7–13 years
- word count : around 50,000–60,000 words (though Fantasy tends to be longer)
- characters ages : 9–14 years
Board Books: 0 – 100 words.
Early Picture Books: 0 – 500 words.
Picture Books: 50 – 1,000 words. 1k is pushing it.
Nonfiction Picture Books: 500 – 2,000 words.
Early Readers: 200 – 3,500 words, depending on age level.
Chapter Books: 4,000 – 10,000 words.
Hi-Lo Books: 500 – 50,000 words, varies greatly depending on age level. A large number fall between 500 – 20k words. Some 60-90k YA books get classified as Hi-Lo, but I don’t think they were specifically written for the category.
Middle Grade: 25,000 – 45,000 words, usually around 35-40k. Longer word counts allowed for fantasy, sci-fi, historical. Up to 60-70k is probably safe (though there are even longer exceptions).
Young Adult: 45,000 – 70,000 words. Longer word counts allowed for fantasy, sci-fi, paranormal, historical. 80-90k is safe (there are some as high as 120k, but I recommend staying below 100k, if possible).
Nonfiction MG/YA: 5,000 – 70,000 words, varies greatly (with some exceeding 100k) depending on the type of book and age level (I recommend researching similar titles to what you’re writing/proposing to find appropriate range). Memoirs seem to fall within the same range as novels for their age group.
from Jennifer Laughran’s (former) Blog
PICTURE BOOK: 0-1,300 words. Sweet spot: 300-550*
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak: 336
Mostly Monsterly by Tammi Sauer: 348
Fancy Nancy by Jane O’Connor: 418
Ladybug Girl by David Soman: 721
* Note: I really advise clients to keep their picture books under 600 words – 800 at the very top. Picture books in the 1,000+ word range are generally folktales and fairy tales… and are not exactly in fashion. Unless you are a really gifted folklorist, I would not go down this road. There are very few such authors in the country. They know who they are.
EARLY READER: 100-2,500 words. Sweet spot: (depends on level)*
Elephant and Piggie: Can I Play Too? by Mo Willems: 199
On the Go with Pirate Pete and Pirate Joe by AE Cannon: 1,180
Dodsworth in London by Tim Egan: 1,293
Little Bear by Else Minarik: 1,630
Frog and Toad All Year by Arnold Lobel: 1,727
*Note: Because these books are meant for brand-new readers, these books are often marked according to level – the higher the level, the more sophisticated/longer the text can be. Publishers may have their own specific guidelines about these leveled readers, even requiring a certain number of syllables per page for readability.
CHAPTER BOOK: 4,000-13,000 words. Sweet spot: 6,000-10,000
Magic Tree House Lions at Lunchtime by Mary Pope Osborne: 5,313
Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus by Barbara Park: 6,570
My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett: 7,682
Judy Moody was in a Mood by Megan McDonald: 11,049
REALISTIC MIDDLE GRADE: 25,000-60,000 words. Sweet spot: 30,000-45,000
Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban: 29,052
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson: 32,888
Ruby Holler by Sharon Creech: 44,907
Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z by Kate Messner: 48,454
FANTASY MIDDLE GRADE: 35,000-75,000 words. Sweet spot: 45,000-65,000
Juliet Dove, Queen of Love by Bruce Coville: 43,912
White Mountains by John Christopher: 44,763
Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander: 46,926
Midnight for Charlie Bone by Jenny Nimmo: 65,006
Harry Potter & the Sorceror’s Stone by JK Rowling: 77,508
REALISTIC YA: 40,000-90,000 words*. Sweet spot: 45,000-75,000
Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles: 40,480
Great Call of China by Cynthea Liu: 52,532
Flash Burnout by LK Madigan: 67,186
Looking for Alaska by John Green: 69,023
Harmonic Feedback by Tara Kelly: 71,935
FANTASY YA: 50,000 words to 150,000 words**. Sweet Spot: 65,000-85,000 words.
Magic Under Glass by Jackie Dolamore: 55,787
Tithe by Holly Black: 66,069
Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr: 73,426
Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray: 95,605
City of Bones by Cassandra Clare: 130,949
Eragon by Christopher Paolini: 157,000