A Bigger Bridge is Needed Between Young Adult and Middle Grade Books

Amanda Chang, Staff Writer

As children grow up, they read many types of books of all different levels and genres. They obviously need the material they read to match their interests and comprehension. By the time I was in seventh grade, I had a reading level of a high schooler, so I decided to begin exploring the Teen section of the Arcadia Public Library. However, what I found was very different from what I expected. 

Instead of finding harder versions with more complex vocabulary of the Middle Grade books I read, the books introduced me to somethings I had never experienced. The Young Adult (YA) books were less innocent with more cussing, romance, and violence. Some of the themes that the books included were new to me as well. I believe that the new content should not have been such a shock.

All the cussing, violence, and more sexual details of the YA books made me really uncomfortable. In the summer of 2018, I read a book in which a girl gets kidnapped and sexually abused. Not only did this book make me uncomfortable, but it scarred me and changed my outlook on people. 

I understand that many people have been exposed to the elements that make me cringe and shy away from, and that others may argue that reading books with such topics is a good way to be introduced to new things without having to actually experience the events live. All teenagers have varying interests, so books are created to suit them. For some experienced and cultured high schoolers, some topics may be unrealistic or uninteresting. However, I still feel that authors and the literary industry should write and publish books that can be directed toward younger readers with a higher level of comprehension. 

Such higher level of comprehension would entail having books that maintain the same amount of innocence as Middle Grade reading while slowly introducing darker or more mature themes. Or, the material could keep a similar type of theme/concept while gradually presenting more mature content. In both cases, the vocabulary level would also grow as well as the word count.

For some types of entertainment, like movies, sites like commonsensemedia.org are available for audiences to see a review made by the site that includes age and content rating. The site also permits viewers to create reviews about their own opinions about age and content to assist the audience to make their own judgements about the entertainment. While I find this site to be very helpful when it comes to movies and TV shows, and although there are a few reviews on popular books, it is more difficult for me to find reviews on other books that I have some interest in. I wish there were a site parallel to commonsensemedia.org that would rate books on difficulty and content, but until then I can only do what readers do best—imagine.