Picture Books 101, Part 3 – MGs, YAs, Etc.

Posted by Rita Lorraine

Hi Everybody,

Glad you’re still with me as we wade our way through the wonderful world that is Picture Books.

Last time we learned about books for the little guys. Now we’re on to the teens and ‘tweens. Here we go!


Picture Book 101, Stories of Depth, Rita Writes HistoryChapter books — For ages 7-10, these books are 45-60 manuscript pages long, broken into 3-4 page chapters. Stories have a bit more depth and meat than transition books, but they still contain a lot of action. The sentences are typically more complex, but paragraphs are still short (2-4 sentences is average). Chapters often end in the middle of a scene to keep the reader turning the pages.

Middle Grade (MG’s)

This book is designed ages 8-12, which is sometimes thought of as the “golden age of reading for children.” Manuscripts are longer (100-150 pages), stories are more complicated (sub-plots involving secondary characters are woven through the story) and themes more sophisticated. Kids get hooked on characters at this age, which explains the popularity of series with 20 or more books involving the same cast. Fiction genres range from contemporary to historical to science fiction/fantasy; nonfiction includes biographies, science, history and multicultural topics.

Young Adult (YA’s)

Targeting ages 12 and up, these manuscripts are 130 to about 200 pages long. Plots can be complex with several major characters, though one character should emerge as the focus of the book. Themes should be relevant to the problems and struggles of today’s teenagers, regardless of the genre. One outstanding example of a Young Adult book is The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton.

Unnamed Category

There is a new category on the horizon. It is for ages 10-14, and books are slightly shorter than the 12 and up category. Topics (both fiction and nonfiction) are appropriate for children who have outgrown middle grade but aren’t yet ready for the themes (fiction) or who aren’t studying the subjects (nonfiction) of high school readers.

Well, that wraps up our series on Picture Books. Hope this gives you a pretty good idea of what Picture Books are, and how they differ as they target different ages.


Want to see a spectacular example of a picture book? Well here it is, courtesy of Handprint Books:

Hats off to Handprint Books, for providing this free copy of There Come A Soldier.

Best wishes and happy writing!


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