Hey, everybody! While we’ve already discussed how to pick the genre for your book, the age demographic is also important to figure out–especially for marketing purposes. Today, I’m going to talk about some of the different age ranges for books and what they mean. With that said, let’s jump right in!
Also a short disclaimer:
I”m not saying that only people in these age ranges can or should only read the corresponding book selection. It’s mainly a tool for determining where most of the audience lies, how appropriate the book is for younger readers in the demographic, and marketing strategy. There’s no limit to what age-range you can enjoy reading.
Personally, I’m seventeen and don’t see myself ever quitting YA books, but I also love some Adult fiction books. I don’t even mind reading a book that’s younger now and then. It’s all up to personal preference, however age ranges can be super important for younger readers avoiding certain mature content or levels of difficulty.
Also: while I have included the Amazon links for the books I’ve mentioned in this post, I always encourage looking for an electronic version of the book when possible, or checking out your local thrift store. This is more sustainable for your wallet and the environment 🙂
Picture books are generally written with children five and under in mind, using minimal and simple wording, with big pictures. Picture books can vary greatly, sometimes having no words at all, or up to one thousand depending on if the child is a toddler or in kindergarten.
Once the child has turned five, they will likely still read picture books, but may also become suited for Early Readers. Between five and seven, children may start to recognize words and read some things on their own. Early Readers are somewhat more wordy than Picture Books, but still feature many illustrations to help out and grab the attention of the young reader.
Early readers will be anywhere in the low thousands range for word-count, generally not exceeding five thousand words. These books feature still simple stories, but somewhat more complex than picture books, and with slightly more difficult wording at times. These are often the books that have the reading levels printed on the back and cover, usually between one and five.
First Chapter Books
By now, the child is likely between first and third grade, though every child may learn to read at a different pace. These chapter books are short, typically less than ten thousand words, but feature a longer and more complex story than Early Readers would. These books typically have very short chapters. They have short paragraphs for the child to read, and often still feature small pictures.
These books usually won’t feature any violence, and the topics are suitable for the young readers. For chapter books like these, you can think of Eerie Elementary, Junie B. Jones, or the Magic Tree House books.
Middle Grade Chapter Books
Middle Grade (MG) books are targeted at children from ages nine to twelve, and are bigger and more complex than the first chapter books a child reads. MG books can have more complex and serious plots than first chapter books, have longer paragraphs and chapters, and tend not to feature any pictures. There may be a little violence, and the topics may deal with somewhat more mature issues (for example: stealing, personal loss/death, discrimination). These books are longer, and generally under 50, 000 words–though the lines are a bit blurred here.
It should be said that there is a huge difference between some of these books in terms of content and complexity. The books meant for readers on the younger side of the range are much different at times from the ones on the older side. Some of the books are closer to First Chapter Books, and some are closer to Young Adult books. No matter the side of this range, however, they don’t feature explicit language or sexual content (a short kiss is about where it stops).
Young adult is marketed to ages twelve to eighteen, though half of the readers are older than that range. This age range is tricky because it is so broad. On one side of the range, we have twelve year olds (and sometimes younger, as I can attest to myself) and on the other, there’s a more mature, late-teen and older audience. The books are often longer than MG books, and feature more mature themes and content, as well as more complex plots and characters. However, the extent of that greatly depends on what side of the age range it is on, and unfortunately this isn’t always made clear to readers.
YA books that have content more suitable for readers fifteen or younger may have some mild coarse language or made-up swear words, can feature a little more violence and gore than MG, and may have more of a romantic aspect, though no explicit sexual content. They will usually have pretty serious themes, but not so dark that it might disturb readers. For these books, I think of the Maze Runner series, the Bad Girls Don’t Die series, The Book Thief, and the I Am Number Four books.
The older YA books can have quite a bit of explicit language, and may also feature sexual content, though not as graphic as some older ranges may be (it is usually implied, or described through emotions rather than physical descriptions). The violence and gore could be quite heavy, as well. This age range may deal with intense topics for readers, such as suicide, addiction, or assault (though again, not graphic, and it is typically an implied danger or past even that doesn’t take place in the actual story). Books I think of for this range would be The Rule of Three series, the Into the Dim duology, the Monument 14 series, and the In the After duology.
This genre was introduced somewhat recently, and targets readers from eighteen and into their twenties. It often features more explicit content than YA, and has characters that have moved on from their young adult stage in life, dealing with more adult issues. I can’t say I’ve read much New Adult, so I can’t say too much about it.
Lastly, we have adult fiction. The characters are older than the other age ranges, often thirty or older, and pretty much any content goes (though New Adult seems much the same in this aspect). The stories are targeted to an adult audience, and deal with relevant situations and themes.
It should also be noted that often series will change in age range as the books go on and the characters age. Examples of this could be Harry Potter (which starts MG and becomes YA) or the In the After duology (which starts younger YA and becomes older YA) that I mentioned earlier.
In short, while there aren’t any rules about what age-range people should read, the guidelines are crucial for marketing, as well as for younger readers looking for something stimulating yet appropriate.
What age range do you write for? What do you prefer to read?
Thanks so much for reading! 🙂 I post new content on Saturdays, so be sure to click follow and stay up to date! Let me know what you think and what topics you’d like to see next in the comments, or contact me on social media!
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Do you like young adult books? Why not check out an awesome YA sci-fi/dystopian that is appropriate for most younger YA readers? Links are down below! 😉
Signed paperback copies are also available if you contact me!
With all of this in mind, go out and write your masterpiece!