Today I had the double pleasure of picking up the laundry from Emma's room and helping her edit a rough draft of her life story. Just in case I was developing any kind of ego, I discovered that she loves me slightly more than her Aeropostale clothes and slightly less than her kittens. But she did agree to two offers.
One, she read the first chapter of my new middle grade (of which there is only a first chapter) and she agreed to honestly answer some questions about her own reading habits.
"You have reading habits?" I asked her.
"They force us to read at school," she reminded me.
She liked my new middle grade, mostly, but she thought the first paragraph was really boring. She's a fairly reluctant reader as she spends most of her time listening to and reading song lyrics. But her answers might shed some light on any middle grade you might be writing.
1. What types of stories do you like to read?
I only read realistic fiction or fantasy.
2. What makes those books good?
With realistic fiction, you can relate to what's going on with the characters or the plot. I love when not everything is perfect, like the character fails a subject or has nerdy friends. The perfect stuff is just not interesting.
With fantasy, I love the feeling that anything can happen. I can't stand when I can predict what will happen next.
3. How do you pick a book to read?
By the cover. Like the cover of Dear, Dumb Diary there's a girl petting a brain. That's the best cover because it makes you want to read the book. Or at least the summary.
4. How long do you read a book before you decide whether or not to finish it?
First of all, I am not mad weird like you, Mom. I don't read a book to the end even if it's bad. I give it maybe two or three pages. Then I just go on to the next one.
5. What is your all time favorite book?
The Midnight Library series. The best.
6. If twelve year olds could control what students read, what would the choice be?
Music on youtube, lyrics. After that, just nothing from a teacher. Let them go pick out what they like to read and don't force books on kids because you just ask your friends what they're about and what happens if you don't want to read them.
7. What type of setting do you like the best?
For fantasy, it has to be a different place, and creepy. An old house or a creepy lake. For realistic fiction, I like home and school only.
8. What do most of your friends read?
Boy and girl stories, romance and Twilight. I can't stand those. I like fantasy and most twelve year olds don't really like fantasy.
9. Do you have any advice for your mom's new middle grade?
Your first paragraph is dull. No one cares about description. But the creepiness is good. I like that. I like not knowing what will happen.
10. If I finish this one, will you read it?
Not if there's a lot of description, but probably if there's action and scary stuff.