Thursday, March 15, 2012

The ABC's of Middle Grade: O is for Odyssey

Every book needs an odyssey. A journey. A quest. A road readers travel as they make their way through the story. A driving purpose behind the story. A winding path (but not so winding the readers get lost) that leads to the outcome.

And I'm inclined to believe that middle grade readers read mostly for the odyssey. They read for the journey, to find out what happens in the end. No scientific study (or study of any kind) do I have to back up my belief, but the odyssey seems to keep readers reading in middle grade. They want to live the journey with the characters. They want to be on the quest with them.

When I read middle grade (I read this way when I was a kid too), I become the characters and actually live the odyssey with them. Do you read this way? Did you read this way as a kid? Do kids today read like that? My own two kids do. I hear them talking about books as if they personally joined the journey, as if they were right there on the quest with the characters. I think this personal joining in the odyssey is what causes us to like or not like characters, like or not like a plot, and even like or not like ending of a book. What do you think?

17 comments:

  1. This is such a great post for O. I'm very impressed you thought of it. And yes, I agree middle grade kids read for the characters' journey. So do I.

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  2. Great point (and with such a round letter, too). I know my 12yo son reads for the "oddyssey", the "adventure" or the "journey". In his mind he is always the hero when reading. He can see himself doing what they are doing.

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  3. Yes, it's hard for kids to read just because they like the character, and certainly they are not interested in The Message (if there is one)!

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    1. What??!!? :-) Kids don't want The Message? *sighs* I'm an English teacher and adore talking about themes and symbols.

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    2. Nope they don't want the message ;-)

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  4. I totally agree. My son reads for the journey too.

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  5. Great points, everyone. I'm evaluating my ms based on its odyssey right now.

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  6. I totally agree. That journey (even if they don't physically go anywhere) is so important.

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    1. Yes! Even if they don't physically go anywhere. Perhaps those are the most important journeys of all.

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  7. Hi Barbara,
    You have been tagged over at my blog www.writersdolaundrytoo.blogspot.com. Hope you don't mind. :)

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  8. Yes, I read this way then and I do now. Though MG readers can certainly fall in love with characters, I think they most want to know "what happens."

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  9. Wow, Barbara! I love how you keep coming up with these alphabetical gems. Yes, of course, so much of literature has a journey or odyssey within. I'm still revising own MG novel's journey.

    And I love your question. I always become the character (not always the mc, but usually), and I'm sure my older son does too. Younger Son is not a reader! :(

    But I agree: the joining in is what carries us to the end and makes us care.

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  10. Yes, I think kids read for the journey. Or more so, for a hint of freedom and an idea of what it might be like to take a journey other than their own. Real readers love to get lost in the world of their book!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and following - I have done the same :0).

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  11. The journey is what made me forget about lunch and diner when I would read an awesome book as a child. The journey is what carries me to the end of a book and I'm sure it's the same for most kids.

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  12. Whoa...really liked this. And yes on the taking the journey with the characters when I read and write! Love the letter O!

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  13. Such a great choice for O! I agree completely. I love it when a book is able to sweep me up in an adventure with the characters, no matter what that adventure is.

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