Beyond Narnia, Ramona, and Green Gables

A conversation with Christian authors, editors, and more about contemporary children’s literature and how to find the right books for your kids.

If you haven’t visited the children’s section of a bookstore recently, you may be surprised at the sheer floor space taken up by books for young readers. Tens of thousands of children’s book titles are published each year, joining the countless volumes already on the shelves. As of 2022, children’s literature accounted for nearly one third of all book sales in America.

But the reasons to pay attention to this category far exceed any financial impact. These texts have tremendous influence on each new generation. “Because children’s tales perform a variety of cultural functions, they are crammed with clues to changes, attitudes, and behavior,” notes Mitzi Myers, a leading authority on children’s literature. “Above all, these key agents of socialization diagram what cultures want of their young and expect of those who tend them.”

Unfortunately, as anyone perusing the stacks quickly discovers, quantity does not necessarily translate to quality in these lofty aims. In fact, the sheer volume of books only complicates the search for greatness. The bigger the haystack, the harder it is to find the proverbial needle.

One segment of children’s books in particularly high demand is classified as middle grade (or MG) literature. Kids between ages 9 and 13 are considered by many to be in the “golden age” of readers, voraciously consuming books as they first experience the joy of being transported to other worlds through the written word. My own memories of the impact books had on my life in fourth and fifth grade are what drew me to write The Inkwell Chronicles for that audience.

And there’s much to celebrate in the contemporary MG …

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