Thursday, December 8, 2011

The ABC's of Middle Grade: F is for Friends and Family

Okay, I'm going to come right out and say it. I couldn't choose between friends and family for my Letter F in middle grade writing. Besides, how can you choose between friends and family in any situation? It's utterly impossible. I wasn't going to put that weight on my shoulders. Whew. *wipes brow*

Friends are a HUGE part of every middle grader's life and, therefore, must be a focus in middle grade stories. Friendships often change during middle grade years and reading a story where characters are experiencing friendship change can bridge understanding for kids.

Family is another HUGE part of middle grader's life. Change happens in families too--a death, divorce, a mom or dad's new job, a new sibling, adoption, sibling rivalry (just to name a few)--and reading about these situations helps kids see they are not alone.

There is so much else to say about the mingling of friends and family in middle grade stories; this really doesn't even begin the conversation. But since I planned these alphabet posts to be ones of discussion and learning from one another, how about telling how you fit the roles of friends and family into your writing? And, if you care too, share a book you feel melds these two areas in a wonderous way.

9 comments:

  1. Ooh, I know this can be tricky especially with MG. Family is such an important part of the MGers life, but we have to let them solve problems on their own in books. So what do we do? You can't always kill off the family! LOL I think though it's hard, it's vital to show the family life of the character.

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  2. Yes, friends and family are VERY important in middle grade. It is hard to find a good balance, although some books work well because there isn't a good balance. Too much time with friends, not enough time with family, or the MC trying to figure that all out. I can't think of a good book to reference right now, but if I do I'll be back! :)

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  3. I imagine it'd be important to write in both elements in MG.

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  4. I agree both are important. I tend to focus on friends in my writing though the family is a super important theme. At least in the one book I've written.

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  5. I agree--friends and family are equally important! Family tends to be pushed aside for books more often than not, though, I've noticed, which makes me sad. I mean, if *I* find my family important, why wouldn't characters find theirs important, too, especially at that age?

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  6. From life experience, I can say that both friends and family are really important. I try to get both in my stories.

    You were wise to keep them both, I'd say!

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  7. So true, glad you highlighted both family and friends for F. I just finished Breadcrumbs and I thought that did great in both the family and friends areas. Reading Mockingbird by Katherine Erskine can also see family in this one and friends as Caitlin learns to make friends.

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  8. The balance of these is TOTALLY tricky in MG.

    Carrie, BREADCRUMBS popped right to mind when I was writing this post!

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  9. Actual middle graders tend to be trying to distance themselves from their families in real life, so I think that it is okay for books to reflect this. Friends are most important for middle graders. Certainly by 8th grade, kids want very little to do with their families, hence all of the orphans in literature!

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