On the Same Page: Howl’s Moving Castle | On Reading Middle Grade

One of the things I really enjoy about reading books with Alyssa and Amy for our On the Same Page feature is the wide variety of books we read. We try to always choose books we’ll think we’ll enjoy but each one of us differs just a little bit in reading tastes so we also try to challenge ourselves at least one book a year to read a little bit outside of our comfort zone. For me, one of those “comfort zone” boundaries is middle grade. I really don’t read much middle grade at all outside of Harry Potter (which doesn’t count. It’s Harry Potter) and the books I grew up with and read as an actual middle-grader. I’ve seen a few that might look interesting but honestly, I will pick up YA over anything for the most part and adult over middle grade too.

So far for On the Same Page, we’ve read three middle grade books (The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, Peter and the Starcatchers, and Howl’s Moving Castle) and I’ve actually really enjoyed them all! It’s definitely renewed my faith in reading a middle grade book every now and then and helped me not to worry that I won’t connect with it because of the age level.

That being said, I have had a hard time adjusting sometimes. I think I really need to put myself in a middle grade reading mode and try to adjust for what I’m about to read. That’s really not a bad thing and I hope it doesn’t come off as negative, but the storytelling is just a totally different style and the focus is always different. Being an avid YA reader (and in adult stories as well), there’s almost always a romance. The middle grade that I’ve read of course focuses much more on the plot and also friendships, family, and finding one’s own confidence and personality. YA is so much more figuring out where a character wants to go in the world, the transition from child to adult, and often times that includes first love and romance. I don’t necessarily need a romance in a book BUT I usually do enjoy it and it tends to bring out another side of my emotions that helps me connect more personally.

I’m definitely always open to reading more middle grade but sometimes it’s hard to make it a priority. I’m really a YA girl at heart with some adult books mixed in but it’s hard for me to pick up a middle grade book and really just be in love with it. Aside from Harry Potter and Walk Two Moons (which I read as a kid so I probably already have that connection to it), I haven’t loved a middle grade book since I was that age. I’m still interested in trying more and I’m glad I have opportunities to read them with other people like we do with On the Same Page!

 Are you a middle grade reader? Or strictly YA/adult? If you do read middle grade, do you only forage into specific genres?

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Thanks again for checking out this month’s feature for On the Same Page! We had a blast reading HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE and sharing our thoughts with you! And don’t forget to check out Amy & Alyssa’s posts today too!

Alyssa (Books Take You Places) // Amy (Tripping Over Books)

12 thoughts on “On the Same Page: Howl’s Moving Castle | On Reading Middle Grade

  1. Abi Pearson

    I loved Howl’s Moving Castle too! It was such a fun read. 🙂 That said I pretty much read any genre, save Horror. I love reading YA, Adult, New Adult, Middle Grade. I just like reading a good story.

  2. Rubi @ Gone with the Words

    I grew up obsessed with reading mysteries and my favorite author was Joan Lowery Nixon. You’re absolutely right about how you have to prepare for the read. This year I went back to read one of those books & it took me almost half of the book to stop wanting the two main characters to kiss! LOL The worst part was that I had read the same book multiple times when I was younger and had never even thought of the two best friends being anything more.

  3. Audrey Greathouse

    Howl’s Moving Castle is middle grade? I never realized that. Jones’s style is so impressive and detailed, and the mystery of Calicifer was so complex, I could have sworn I should have been older when I read it as a teenager to fully appreciate it and all of its allusions! I don’t read many middle grade books, but Stargirl and Ella Enchanted remain two of my favorite books of all time. Occasionally I do go tripping back into other books for children…mostly classics that I missed growing up. Last summer I went through and read all the Dr. Doolittle I could get my hands on XD

  4. Theresa @ Until We Read Again

    I have not read a lot of middle grade books either. I have read Harry Potter but I am also afraid that I am not going to connect with the characters or the enjoyment level will not be the same. I really want to read this book. It sounds so unique and interesting. I have also heard really great things about the movie. I definitely need to give this one a try!

  5. Gwen Burke

    Middle grade is tricky for me sometimes. I just started reading the Harry Potter series because when it was coming out for the first time I was beyond middle grade reading. Books that I have read this year that I would recommend as far as middle grade would be Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, El Deafo by Cece Bell, Drama
    by Raina Telgemeier, This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki, Jillian Tamaki (GRAPHIC NOVEL) although it does border on YA, and finally The View From Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg.

  6. Charlie @ Girl of 1000 Wonders

    I am a middle grades reader! Since I teach middle school, it kind of goes hand in hand. I move all across the board in terms of target audience, from children’s to adult. I have read Harry Potter, but since I read it as an adult I don’t really consider it middle grades. I see it in this blurred area between MG and YA. Otherwise, I don’t really pay much attention to the genres within MG.

  7. Alexa S.

    Middle grade novels are always a good way to change up my reading pace, since it’s an entirely different perspective and entirely different style of telling a story. I have to make sure I’m in the right mood for it, or it won’t work out very well. But more often than not, I enjoy my little breaks to dip into it every now and then – and I’m glad you’ve been feeling the same way!

  8. Kate @ Mom's Radius

    I struggle with Middle Grade books as well. I love YA and Adult books, but Middle Grade is definitely tough. A lot of the time to plot just doesn’t hold my interest. A couple of good ones I’ve read lately are The Magic Half and Tuesdays at the Castle / Wednesdays in the Tower.

  9. Emma @ Miss Print

    I have what I call a really low tolerance for middle grade–I am more critical of plot holes and less willing to suspend my disbelief. I do try to read some, or at least stay current on what’s popular, for my job but it’s definitely reading that feels a lot more like work to me. Generally the middle grade books I enjoy are the ones that have crossover and usually end up being seen in both YA and MG collections. I guess what might be called “upper” middle grade? That is actually the case for Howl’s Moving Castle which I didn’t even really think of as MG until seeing your post. It’s a favorite of mine but it’s also one I more consider YA even though I know a lot of Jones’ other novels are MG.

  10. Olivia Roach

    I know this is bad because I do write MG books myself, but I am more so a YA or an adult fiction reader. I find it hard to enjoy a good MG book, which doesn’t mean it isn’t good – it’s just more me than anything else. I reread those I read as a child and I don’t mind that, and I can really enjoy picture books so I am not entirely sure what it is. Maybe I have just been reading the wrong kind of MG for me, but actually I do like it somehow 😛

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