Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Stuck in the Middle With You

I'm a middle child. That can't be why I write middle-grade fiction, can it? That would be illogical. But then again, some say birth order plays a role in career choice. (Rebuttal: here.) Has anyone ever surveyed writers to find out if birth order correlates to what they write?

Meantime, while all of you are researching that (and if you want, posting your birth order and writing/reading preferences in the comments) check out these posts about middle school and middle-grade readers. And yes, it's confusing that middle school is usually 6-8th grade students (ages 11-13) who are reading both up and down in grade level, while middle-grade books are often labeled for grades 4-6 (ages 8-12.)

First: Here's a YouTube soundtrack of Stuck in the Middle With You (set to X-Files clips!) for you to listen to while you peruse. (Also: Stuck in the Middle with You: Wikipedia entry) Wow! I'd forgotten that I really LIKE this song.


Interview with three sixth-grade girls (Courtesy of Danette Haworth's blog)

Uncensored answers to "Im going into middle school I want to know whats going on there?"

Middle Grade is a Muddy Name (ShelfTalker at Publishers Weekly)

How To Impress Middle School Boys

Betsy Bird's definition of middle-grade fiction for the Cybils Awards

The Difference Between Middle-Grade and Young Adult Fiction
(from Children's Book Insider)

Books for the Ages: Or Why I Don't Use the Term MG (Little Willow, and be sure to read the awesome comments section)

Is a Sixth-Grader a Young Adult? (Mitali Perkins. Keep pressing for more middle school lists, BTW. VOYA's got one: TopShelf Fiction for Middle School Readers.)

Middle Children Get the Worst Deal (I don't agree. I liked being a middle child. Except when my older sister got to sit in the front seat and I was forced to sit in the back seat between my two younger brothers while they poked and generally annoyed the crap out of each other. Thus, a peace-maker and a "maybe I'll imagine I'm really somewhere else" writer was born.)

***Don't forget to leave your birth order and writing/reading preferences in the comments, if you want to participate in this most unscientific survey.


  1. I'm the eldest of two.
    Writing picture books.
    But teaching college students.
    Hated middle school.
    Want my girls to be able to love it.
    Very scientific, hunh?

  2. I am a twin. My twin sister and I are both the oldest. Okay, she is two-and-a-half-minutes older than me (and she reminds me every chance she gets). I am the forgotten middle child by two-and-a-half-minutes. I know, a tragedy in itself.

    I write everything (adult, fiction, non-fiction, narrative essays, and middle grade fiction). I just began putting together a middle grade chapter book together in my head and little on paper. I am letting it cook for a while. There's no rushing greatness!

  3. I am the youngest of two. My sister was 11 when I was born.

    I have known since I was a kid that I wanted to write books for all different ages. Yep, even before I was a teen myself, I wanted to write for teens.

  4. Thank you for linking to my article! :) :)

  5. Well, I'm detecting no trends at all here in my rigorous study of birth order and writing preference. But I am loving getting to know all of you better!

    BTW, non-writers: you can comment too. Tell me what you like to read, and if you ever stole books from your siblings!

  6. Great collection of reading materials (like I need more to read!).

    For the record: Eldest of four, tend to learn toward YA but I've got interest in middle grade. My favorite years in school were grades 5, 6 and 10 (for whatever that's worth).

    What I'd be curious to know about is birth order and writing *poetry* for children.

  7. Oh yeah, Stealers Wheel (and Gerry Rafferty)... word, dude!

  8. Are middle children natural poets? Hmmm. I want to say yes! (All of you non-middlers: feel free to pound me on that.)

    Poetry, to me, is a language, and middle children are often quite good at interpretation and translation...

    And honestly, I think of novel writing as one long poem.

    5th grade rocked. For both my kids, too. That's the grade I'd teach, if I was ever called to.

  9. I'm the third of seven children. I prefer writing grown-up stories, but I also love writing the occasional poem/song/story for children. I even started writing a new series for MG readers! I LOVED reading the MG books when I was that age. They really helped me to understand things better when nobody else had the answers I was looking for. As to what I prefer to READ, though, I'm definitely hooked on thrillers/mysteries. :)

    BTW, I've linked this post in my blog:


R-E-S-P-E-C-T (or you will be deleted)

You can receive followup comments to this conversation by checking the "notify me" box below the comment window.