Challenging

I've written about this before, but the push to include adult topics and content in books for middle schoolers is something I consider an unfortunate trend. Children develop both physically and emotionally at different rates, and what a mature reader might be able to handle may be far too much for a more innocent child.

Yet the book industry seems determined to push adult topics onto younger and younger kids. One popular middle-grade novel published this year is about two girls getting to know each other because their single gay dads fall in love and start dating. One of the girls casually mentions her surrogate mom, a topic many eight-year-olds are unaware of and would find confusing. Because this book is middle-grade fiction, though, it will be available in many libraries and classrooms for children that age to read.

At the same time, there's been a trend toward making MG fiction easy and unchallenging to read, in terms of vocabulary and sentence structure. It's odd--books for 8-to 12-year-olds are delving into edgy topics, while the same books are often written at a cartoonishly easy level.

I'm a bit old-fashioned, I know. But I think that children should be challenged to read books that stretch their reading skills, improve their vocabularies, and fire their imaginations; I don't think it's necessary to challenge them to think about topics that even some adults these days are uneasy pondering.


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