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Guest Post by Kimberly Kinrade Author of Forbidden Trilogy

Guest Post by Kimberly Kinrade Author of Forbidden Trilogy

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Published by: Michelle on Nov 25, 2012
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12/31/2012

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 Guest Post By Kimberly Kinrade!Defining literature for the under 18 crowed By Kimberly Kinrade, Author of the Forbidden Trilogy Books
 As a parent, I’m always on the lookout for great books for my kids. As a reader, I
love to find a fantastic new author with whom to fall in love. As an author, Sr.Project Manager for Novel Publicity and Marketing Director for Evolved
Publishing, I’ve taken an interest in how books are classified, especially for
 younger readers.The fiction genres for adults are pretty clear-
cut. There’s literary fiction and genre
fiction, and you find what you like within those choices. Some like to mix it up
 with a little of this and that, but whether you’re looking for romance, horror,
magic, science fiction, or a thriller, you g
enerally know what you’ll find within
 your genre.For the under-
18 reading crowd (and those of us who write for them), it’s not so
simple. When does a child graduate from Goosebumps Horror books for youngreaders to real horror that would give grown men nightmares? How much is toomuch with the language, sex or violence?
Historically, children’s literature has not shied away from dark themes. I think 
 back to the original telling of 
Cinderella
and remember her evil stepsisters
 
cutting off parts of their foot to squeeze into that coveted glass slipper. Hey, atleast they were committed!Even stories featuring younger children often portrayed them alone and fendingfor themselves. Guardians and parents were removed in order to give the childthe freedom to move about the adventure and learn the lessons they needed on
their own. This is still true in children’s literature and cinema, from
 Dora the Explorer
to
 Harry Potter
and the whole trend of boarding school books inMiddle Grade and Young Adult fiction.There will always be books that push the envelope of what some consider
‘appropriate’ for a particular age group, but, for the purpose of this article, let’s
look at the ages typically assigned to each category and what they mean.
Categories of Children's Literature
CategoriesofChildren’sLiterature
 
Picture Books: Ages 0-4:
These are illustrated books that rely more on imagesthan on text. For pre- to new readers, these offer a fun way to introduce children
to the world of books. For the very little ones, you’ll often find a focus on learning
numbers, shapes and letters, or an introduction to tactile stimulation (like furry  baby ducks and leathery elephants). When my girls were in pre-school, theirfavorite book was
 Brown Bear
. I still have it memorized!
Early Reader Books: Ages 4-7:
 
 As the child grows, they’re ready for more
 advanced reading. This is when the blend of dazzling artwork and engaging story  become most important. You will see an example of this in
 Honey the Hero
by Emlyn Chand. This is the first of the
 Bird Brain Books
created for 4-6 year olds.Early reader books cross over between picture book and early readers, which areoften lumped into one category.
Chapter Books: Ages 7-9:
 At this level, children are offered longer stories withchapters (previous books did not have chapters.) Most chapter books are notillustrated, or may only have a few black and white sketches. The focus is onimproving reading fluency and comprehension. Two popular examples of thiscategory are the
 Magic Tree House Series
and
A Series of Unfortunate Events
.I have also written a series of chapter books,
The Three Lost Kids
, but chose toinclude full color illustrations (by Josh Evans) in order to appeal to youngerreaders who are ready for longer stories, as well as older readers who still lovegreat illustrations. They are geared for 4-9 year olds, though older kids and evenadults have enjoyed this series for the beautiful images and important lifelessons.
 Lexie World 
, the first of the series, is written from the point of view of asix year old,
 Bella World 
from an eight year old and
 Maddie World 
from a nine
 
 year old. Each of my daughters helped create these books, so they are extraspecial.Overall, none of these books are controversial, even if they get difficult tocategorize. (Is it a picture book or chapter book?) But they can be scary. In
 A Series of Unfortunate Events
, those kids face some pretty frightening situations
and it’s not a happy book, as the narrator is fond of reminding the reader. Still,
things are pretty tame in the world of the little people, but as they get older,defining their books gets harder. (Puberty makes every area of life difficult,
doesn’t it?)
 
Middle Grade: Ages 9-13:
This age bracket is really tricky. What’s the
difference between Middle Grade and Young Adult (the next category)? Well,
mostly, it’s content. Middle Grade books can be shorter to longer, there’s really 
no restriction. Think of 
 Harry Potter
; it started as a Middle Grade series, but
 became longer and darker with each book. In October I’ll be publishing
The Reluctant Familiar
, a book whose protagonist is a 13-year-old witch, so it could
 be MG, but it could also be YA. There’s a lot of cross
-over here.The general consensus seems to be that this category should be fairly tame withthe language, sex and violence. Nothing graphic. Main characters tend to be younger (within the 12-14 age range) and are dealing with issues typical of thosegrades.However, as I said, it bleeds into the YA category.
 Young Adult: Ages 14+:
This is probably the most problematic genre of all.Some think YA caters to readers as young as 13, or stops at 18. As the name of this
genre (and it’s become a whole genre in and of itself) does include the word adult,
I think it is for the older teens and, well, young adults. This genre (along withsome MG) also has a huge cross over to adult readers (mostly female) well intotheir 30s, 40s and above.
The most challenging aspect of the YA genre is figuring out what’s appropriate for
this diverse age group. Topics such as sex, drugs and violence are often exploredin YA books, and have created conflict for those who feel we should be protecting young readers from such things. Is swearing okay? Depends on whom you ask.Some are coining terms such as Upper YA or New Adult to further categorize books that have more mature themes. Generally a YA book has an older teenmain character who is struggling with coming of age themes. Romance, sex,drugs, violence
these are all issues that many teens deal with, so a lot of writerschoose to include them.

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