Remembering “Juvenile” Books

I was talking with my mom about books over President’s Day weekend, and she said that she preferred middle grade books to young adult.  This struck me as an interesting point, because I couldn’t remember when I’d started reading Young Adult as opposed to Middle Grade.

Thinking back to my county library growing up, there was the picture book and early reader section, and then the juvenile books, a mix of books that would now be considered YA and MG.  The hardbacks were shelved around the edges of the juvenile alcove, and the paperbacks were on rotating tower shelves in the middle of the space.  I can still hear the squeak of spinning those shelves, browsing for a book.

I like reading a lot of different types of books.  Having the Middle Grade books and the Young Adult books mixed meant that I could browse Howl’s Moving Castle, Shabanu Daughter of the Wind, Ramona Quimby, Holly Black’s Tithe, Sweet Valley High, Tex, and Jacqueline Woodson’s Miracle’s Boys.  This mix is where my tastes fit best.  Separating into two parts feel like it further divides the readership.  People focus on one or the other rather than reading a variety of books in the genre.

When I go to the library or bookstore, I browse the Young Adult books, the Middle Grade books, and the Adult sections.  I miss having the Juvenile books all together, where kids could find something a little bit younger, a little bit older, without labels limiting their choices.

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