As a kid, I read a literal armful of books almost every week. I loved to go to the library and treasure hunt among the shelves to find books by new authors as well as familiar ones. Mostly I looked for great stories—ones I could invest my time and emotion in.
If I found an author I loved—I read every book they wrote that I could get my hands on—in both my school and public libraries. I saved money from my paper route and would splurge on a dozen books at a time through Scholastic and library sales.
Every book I opened was an invitation to be transported to a new world—sometimes literally, sometimes figuratively—always eagerly. I fell in love with with the Civil War Era and learned that people on both sides of the war had a lot in common—they cared about their families, their friends, their country. I admired America’s early pioneers—marveling at how much they could accomplish so much with so little—and most especially without electricity and indoor plumbing.
I loved stories about friendship, about ordinary people doing extraordinary things, and I especially loved stories where the hero or the heroine made the “right” choice—which usually complicated their lives for most of the book, but their courage would finally be validated by the ending.
I read stories about contemporary kids dealing with the same problems I dealt with: peer pressure, bullying, homework, book reports, obnoxious siblings, the awkwardness of adolescence. I cheered some characters on and booed others. Some gave me courage to keep going when life got tough.
Some books made me laugh out loud— while others made me cry. The best ones did both.
Some books, like Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson, are extremely memorable. I loved Leslie’s imagination and felt Jess’s pain as the picked-on only brother in the middle of four sisters. I was just as eager as Jess to embrace Leslie’s make-believe world and was equally devastated when that world ended way-too-soon.
One thing I love about middle-grade is that kids aged 8-14 can go on limitless adventures and accomplish great things: whether the stories are set in the “real” world or in fantasy worlds–with or without magic objects.
Imagination and wonder are key.
I am partial to middle-grade novels that help kids believe that they can be heroes in their own lives. Whether the main character dons a super hero costume or not, I love characters that find courage within themselves to solve their own problems—because it helps the reader to understand that they, too, can be a super hero in their own life.
To me, it isn’t Harry Potter’s wand that makes him special, it’s his sense of loyalty to his personal code of ethics, his friends, and his courage to make the right choices—even when it would be easier not to.
Good friends and good books are still very important to me. Though now I write books about good friends and enjoy hanging out with my husband and kids as well.
Laugh lots … Love much … Write on!
When Monique Bucheger isn’t writing, you can find her playing taxi driver to one or more of her 12 children, plotting her next novel, scrapbooking, or being the “Mamarazzi” at any number of child-oriented events. Even though she realizes there will never be enough hours in any given day, Monique tries very hard to enjoy the journey that is her life. She is the author of the middle-grade Ginnie West Adventure series, a picture book titled “Popcorn,” and in the process of releasing two new series in the near future-a family drama and a middle-grade fantasy.