March 9, 2009

What the heck is YA? How about MG? Understanding Reading Levels

Children's books can be solidly in one category or cross a variety of reading levels and targeted audiences. If you are a children's writer, how do you know where your book fits in? What's a YA book? How about a MG book? A SCBWI faculty member distributed this helpful information:
Picture Book: Age 1-6+

Range from a few words per page to longer paragraphs of text and more complicated story lines. Word count: limited words - 1,000 words. Less than 800 words is best.

Easy-to-Read: Age 4-8, 6-9, 7-10

Simple sentences and limited vocabulary. For children just learning to read. Stories need to move fast.

Chapter Books: Age 7-11

Word count: approx. 10,000 - 25,000. Short chapters for young readers. Historical, mystery and contemporary stories popular.

Middle-Grade Novels: Age 8-12

Tight plotting, plenty of dialogue, and a fast pace are crucial. Approximately 12,000-40,000 words. All genres - a major market for children's writers.

Young Adult Novels: Age 12 and up

Approximately 40,000-60,000 words. Suject matter can be controversial and range from innocent to "edgy". A teen protagonist.

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