If we talk about middle grade books, maybe our mind instantly go to Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. We think middle grade book is a light, funny book to read with a lot of sugarcoated version of reality. True, there are still some middle grade books that are really fun to read, but in the last few years, authors and publishers create more middle grade books with global issue discussion on them. To some people, these topics may not be suitable for kids, causing the books to be overshadowed by other popular, light, funny and happy books.
Usually, we found global issues in YA books. In fact, I don’t really remember the last time I read a YA book without two or three global issues on it. But, we’re moving forward now. Not only YA books, middle grade books adapt these issues too now.
Racism, discrimination and patriarchy are topics I often found in middle grade books. These are issues children don’t really learn from school, and it’s up to their parents to teach why these things are bad. Telling them alone sometimes is not really working, so most parents opt to show their children—be it showing them with real life or fictional (books and movies) examples—these issues.
Not only social issues, some authors introduce environmental issues such as global warming and pollution. Take a look at Rick Riordan’s The Burning Maze for example. In The Burning Maze, all nature spirits said their home environment is littered—that they can’t breathe fresh air and they suffer from forest fire and other environmental problems. Again, this issue is important to be introduced to children, so they’ll know how dangerous the world we live in right now, if we don’t make a chance soon.
Some authors even bring up more heavy issues on their middle grade books. Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga is book about refugee. To me, it’s shocking because I don’t usually found an author who’s as brave as Warga to include this topic. Aside from Middle Eastern representation alone, this book is a lesson about why we should help refugees and never exclude them in any way possible.
Big question I’ve always heard, “is it important to talk about these issues to children?”
I personally think it’s important to introduce these issues to children. It may sounds harsh for you to hear but they deserve to know what happen in the world they live in, even when it’s ugly. We live in the world where people justified horrible things and it’s easy for children to be brainwashed to believe that these things are okay and normal. It doesn’t mean children are obliged to fix these issues, no, but it’s important for them to be aware on situation we’re currently live in. It’s important to teach them why we shouldn’t be racist, why discrimination is bad, why we shouldn’t litter and pollute our planet, why education matters for everyone regardless their background. By teaching them about global issues, hopefully they’ll grow as a better generation than us.
✧ Middle grade book recommendations ✧
Before I go, I will give few middle grade book recommendations you and your younger siblings/children should read! Some of these books don’t really talk about global issues, but it has other things that are important for children to read.
- Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga. Tagged: refugee, own-voices, diverse characters, authors of colors.
- Wonder by R.J. Palacio. Tagged: bullying, authors of colors, life lessons.
- The War that Saved my Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. Tagged: abuse survivor, historical.
- Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed. Tagged: diverse characters, own-voices, forced labors, feminism, importance of resistant and education, authors of colors.
- See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng. Tagged: absent parents, science trivia, life lessons, authors of colors.
- The Storm Runner by J.C. Cervantes. Tagged: disabled character, diverse characters, authors of colors.
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I’d like to hear from you
Do you think we should include global issues in middle grade books? Do you still read middle grade books? Let me know what you think on the comment section below!
I hope this will give you some insight on said matter, thank you for stopping by!