Should sixth graders read young adult novels? Should fourth graders read middle grade novels? I believe that kids should read anything that turns them on to reading, but I do worry about whether they are ready for the content. Many of my sixth graders are ready for some mature topics (they are 15 weeks away from being seventh graders). Some want a little more romance than a middle grade novel can give them. There are very few middle grade romances. This is a dilemma.
This problem has found its way into my own writing of stories. I have a middle grade manuscript (I never write that it is completed because I don’t believe any of my stories are ever complete – if it ever gets published, I’ll change my mindJ) and it contains a little romance (holding hands and a little kiss). Many of the kids (even the ones that don’t like romance) love the part in the story. I read it to them at the end of the school year, so they are ready for a little more mature content. On this manuscript, I succeeded with finding just the right amount of romance and mature content for an “almost” seventh grader to handle.
Unfortunately, I am not finding as much success in the story that I am working on now. It started out as a middle grade story, but I’m in the process of revising it to be young adult. I have two reasons. The first is the romance, but the second, and more important reason, is there are just not that many young adult hockey stories. There are not many middle grade stories either, but my story plot is moving towards a more mature audience. Obviously, I am in the process of revising many parts, but I’ve found it enjoyable and the changes are flowing, so I believe that I’ve made the right choice.
Here’s a snippet of this morning’s writing (and the beginning of a romance):
Ding. I am startled awake by the text. How long have I been sleeping? I’ve never loved history class, but this is the first time that I’ve used the textbook as a pillow. Did I drool on tonight’s reading assignment? Yuck.
I look over at my phone as it dings a second time.
Can I come over to study?
Samantha’s name appears above the message. My heart starts racing. I didn’t put her name in my contacts. Did I? I can’t have her here. She can’t see our living room that’s also Mom’s bedroom. She can’t see all of the dishes that Dad and I haven’t cleaned from the week. She can’t see the constant darkness. She can’t feel the silence. She can’t see Mom.
Can we meet at Reggies?
Reggie’s Diner is off of Main Street and has the best bacon cheeseburger in town, probably the best in the world. Reggie played hoops overseas before taking over the diner from his pop. He gave me so many pointers this summer when I was thinking about trying hoops instead of hockey. He’s got the sickest crossover dribble.
See you there at 7:30.:)
It’s a twenty-minute bike ride from here, so I’ve got time to wash up and clean the drool off of my cheek. I can’t believe that I have a study date with Samantha. I wonder if she thinks it’s a date.