If you’re writing middle grade fiction, you’ve probably seen the stats: more girls than boys are reading. And they read different kinds of books. Does this mean you should give up on your funny boy book and write for girls? I don’t think so, because there are still many boys out there reading. Besides, lots of girls read books that could be considered “boy books”. But you might want to keep in mind that there are differences in what boys and girls like to read. So, what do girls like?
In general, girls like stories that feature emotional relationships with strong characters they can identify with. Some recurring topics for girl readers:
1. Friendships and their problems, including BFFs. Being popular, friends that drop you, jealousy, girl friend triangles, girl bullies – these are all topics that reflect the experiences of middle grade girls.
2. Princesses. Princesses and happy endings are also still on the tween shelves in bookstores, some with magical elements like dragons or fairy godmothers, others tackling sophisticated ideas like saving the kingdom or searching for a kidnapped sibling.
3. Family issues. Although 9 to- 12-year-old girls are becoming more and more concerned with friends, deeper family issues start to hold their attention, as they begin to develop and voice opinions.
4. Animal Stories. These range from girls helping animals to animal adventures or even stories that feature animals as the main characters.
Even though these are popular “girl” topics, middle grade girls also like the fast pace of adventure stories or the challenge of solving a mystery. Many middle grade books include a female character along with a boy to add some girl appeal. Girls are often more flexible about their reading than boys. Have you ever seen a boy reading a book with pink cupcakes on the cover? Probably not. But some girls enjoy the Percy Jackson books (by Rick Riordan) because they enjoy the adventure. What is important to some girls is not necessarily the topic of the book. Instead, they might be looking for:
Strong characters. Characters with realistic motivations (even within a fantasy or supernatural setting) and writing that highlights their thoughts and emotions, so girls can analyze and think about their problems.
Big ideas. More complicated stories that allow them to stretch their imaginations and question the world around them.
What do you think is important in writing to appeal to girls? Do you have a favourite MG book for girls?
Boys and Girls Are Different at Getting Kids Reading.Com
A few books specifically targeted for middle grade girls.
Some thoughts on going beyond traditional girl topics.