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All Middle Grade Novels Should Be 192 Pages. No Exceptions.

image 500x375 All Middle Grade Novels Should Be 192 Pages. No Exceptions.

Imagine a world…

Where all middle grade fiction is 192 pages. No exceptions.

There’s been talk for a few years now about the expanding page counts in books for young people. Some point to Harry Potter as the reason. One type of book that hasn’t ballooned is the humble picture book. There are exceptions, but in general, picture books are 32 pages long. It made me wonder, what if we applied that sort of thinking to novels? I understand the reasons for keeping a picture book at 32 make more sense than keeping middle grade to 192 (like the attention span of the audience), but what the heck? Let’s consider it for a second.

What if a story is longer, you say? Either it gets edited down, or slap a #1 on the spine because that sucker’s becoming a series. Shorter? Beef that puppy up. You have 192 pages to work with – and only 192 – make the most of them. How would this sort of picture book mentality shake things up in the middle grade world?

So why 192? I’ve always felt that just under 200 pages is a perfect length. It’s kind of like how some people feel 2:42 seconds is the perfect length for a pop song. Then I started checking out a few sample books and their page counts and was reaffirmed:

From the Mixed Up Files 99x150 All Middle Grade Novels Should Be 192 Pages. No Exceptions.

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler: 188 pages

Westing Game1 103x150 All Middle Grade Novels Should Be 192 Pages. No Exceptions.

The Westing Game: 182 pages

Maniac Magee 102x150 All Middle Grade Novels Should Be 192 Pages. No Exceptions.

Maniac Magee: 184 pages

Hatchet1 97x150 All Middle Grade Novels Should Be 192 Pages. No Exceptions.

Hatchet: 195 pages

A Wrinkle in Time 104x150 All Middle Grade Novels Should Be 192 Pages. No Exceptions.

A Wrinkle in Time: 211 pages

DannyChampionOfTheWorld 98x150 All Middle Grade Novels Should Be 192 Pages. No Exceptions.

Danny the Champion of the World: 196 pages

when you reach me1 98x150 All Middle Grade Novels Should Be 192 Pages. No Exceptions.

When You Reach Me: 210 pages

So…

Would middle grade fiction be better because of this?

Would it be worse?

Is this the dumbest thing you’ve ever heard?

Pipe up in the comments.

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About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.

Comments

  1. Jennifer says:

    I would be totally in favor of that. Think Gordon Korman’s adventure series.

    • Travis Jonker says:

      That’s true – a bunch of Korman’s books fall near 192. For example, the first book in his On the Run series is 164. I’m curious if any authors have a perfect length in their head that they shoot for. Jeff Kinney must like 224, because all of the Wimpy Kid books come in at that page count.

  2. Yes!!! I am with you on this with a caveat (see below). I have always tried to keep my read-alouds (to my 4th grade class) to as close to 200 pages as possible, but it has become harder and harder to stick to that what with many terrific mg books being way more than that. (One of my favorites from last year — Kathi Appelt’s True Blue Scouts — is 352 pages. On the other hand, Jennifer Holm’s forthcoming The Fourteenth Goldfish, which I read aloud to my class last year, is a just right 208 pages.) My reasoning is that I feel that if some of my listeners aren’t 100% into the book (and I can’t believe all of them are rapt no matter how great a reader I am and how great many of us think the book is — they have their own tastes after all), they aren’t stuck with it too too long. And I also think it applies so much to newly independent readers who can lose steam.
    That said, I think there is a place for books like Andy Griffith’s 26 Story Treehouse (352 pages) and Stephen Patis’s Timothy Failure (304 pages), books that are light, easy reading for kids who may not gravitate to the arguably more literary titles along the lines of those you mention.

    • Travis Jonker says:

      I like how you mention your read-aloud experiences, Monica – I agree that a book closer to 192 makes a lot of sense in that setting. For read aloud (and for independent reading), the 192 rule would also bring a nice bit of predictability for kids – they would know about how long the story will be. This could be a positive thing.

      • Judith Ridge says:

        See ya later, Harriet the Spy! Fare thee well, Ranger’s Apprentice! Hoo-roo, The Secret Garden!

        (Sorry, I couldn’t see how to post a new comment so had to make it a reply.)

  3. …. They love the longer length of these sorts of books. Makes them feel they are there with those reading so many of the other longer popular titles (e.g. Percy Jackson or Harry Potter).

  4. Stacy Dillon says:

    I have to say my initial reaction is to balk at this (rules and all) but then I stared wondering a bit more. Some of the books mentioned may come in under 200 but in my experience some of the older titles have very little white space and some crazy small fonts/typeface. I also wonder at the pigeonholing of the titles…I can see limits being places on readers in school settings especially. Hmmm…food for thought for sure. (Heads off to search page counts of fav books!)

    • Travis Jonker says:

      Good point about the font size/spacing. If 192 became the rule, I imagine there would be all sorts of font tricks going on. I envision a revival of Courier New (if they needed to stretch to 192) and Arial Narrow (if the story runs long).

  5. Erika says:

    Holes = 241 pp., apparently, but Island of the Blue Dolphins= 184…

  6. I think looking at page length is an important issue. Kids attention spans, for the most part, need something manageable. I experience this most with read alouds. I rarely would choose a read aloud over 200 pages. I will add, however, that I read Wonder every year to my classes and even though that book is more than 200 pages, R.J. Palacio writes in a way that makes it doable for my classroom. Not only should we look at page count total, but look at the length of chapters. The shorter chapters in Wonder are perfect for my readers, as if the changing perspectives. I think one must consider “how” the book is written, also.

  7. KEM says:

    I think some authors felt like this was a major constraint. For example, Tamora Pierce talks about how when writing her Alanna series she was limited to a page count, and how that affected her writing. I don’t think there should be a strict limit on pages. An author should just be allowed to write their style. We’ll get the best quality books that way.

    • Travis Jonker says:

      Thanks for bringing in a bit of the author’s perspective KEM – I’m definitely viewing things from the reader side, so this is an interesting addition to the discussion

      • It depends on the reader, maybe? I hear from a lot of kids and their parents about Jinx (360 pp) and Jinx’s Magic (389 pp) and none have complained about the length. They want more. But I have had a couple complaints about the length from librarians. I am not sure why that is.

        Anyway, it takes that long to tell the story. As the Rum Tum Tugger says, there’s no doing anything about it.

        I think most of the longer middle grade novels are fantasies, which tend to run long because of the need for world-building. Only one of the examples above is a fantasy, as opposed to magical realism.

        And fantasy engages kids. Harry Potter is often assumed to be The Exception in the MG world, but he’s not. If we’re talking about what engages target-age readers, the answer is Harry Potter. I don’t think the Harry Potter books would have worked at 192 pages. Far too much would have had to be cut… Diagon Alley; the Gryffindor portrait lady and her passwords; the etiquette of owl-usage; house elves. These world-building details are what immerse kids in the books so completely.

        And once they’re immersed they’ll read 870 pages (the length of Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix) and then sigh because it’s over, and then reach for the next.

  8. Michele says:

    I agree with Kem. The story is the most important factor in any work, although I understand the importance of length for certain age groups. It also depends on genre and audience. A book for reluctant readers is going to be much shorter. Most authors work toward word count goals, rather than pages. A few years ago it was 20,000 to 55,000. Some books, however, are much longer. How does 192 pages translate to word count?

    • Travis Jonker says:

      That’s a good question – I don’t know the typical word count of a 192 page book. Maybe someone out there knows a resource to find that info?

      • Joanne Levy says:

        My book (SMALL MEDIUM AT LARGE) comes in at 193 pages (so close!) and is about 31,000 words. Much depends on text size, chapter breaks etc. Amazon used to show text stats (including word count) for books, but for some reason, discontinued that feature.

  9. Hmmmm. I could get behind this. I’m currently reading Smek for President to Ella at bedtime, and wow, there seems to be a lot of it ahead of us… maintaining my J. Lo voice is a strain!

    • Travis Jonker says:

      Maybe books that require a J. Lo voice could be capped at 100 pages?

      • Travis, oh how I wish there were a like button for this comment.
        Actually, I’m smiling all the way through this post.
        Viewing it from the perspectives of a former librarian who loved to read aloud, a mom who- ditto, and now a writer who can’t imagine writing too many more than 200 pages, I hear you. But JoAnne makes an excellent point about fonts.
        I know you used to be able to get word count via the dreaded AR website.
        But white space would be my friend when reading, esp in a JLo voice.
        :)

  10. I’m more of the opinion that a good book is exactly as long as it needs to be. Looking at a few of my all-time favorites that you didn’t cover above, Breadcrumbs is 312 pages, Anne of Green Gables is 309, and The Green Futures of Tycho is only 128. I hate books that sag in the middle because they’re poorly edited, but I also dislike books that are too short to cover their material.

    • Travis Jonker says:

      You’re making a lot of sense here Sam. It’s just about impossible to consider some of my longer favorites trimmed down in any way.

  11. Jess Keating says:

    Ooh, this sends the author-side of me into a panic, but I have to say I can see the intrigue here from a reader or teacher’s point of view, especially. And like you said, we do typically have the 32 page rule for picture books, so it’s not totally crackers to consider it with MG. Some writerly folk have pointed out that constraints and limits will actually *help* the writing process, so this could be something that might benefit writers (especially newer ones) hone their craft. Great discussion here!
    And FYI – here is a good link to source out wordcount. Hatchet comes in at around 42K. :)
    https://www.renaissance.com/Store/quiz_home.asp?cmd=specific&i=19004&root=TITLE&ftextoption=allwords&y=hatchet&q=hatchet&x=10&w=1&autoscroll=NO&quiztype=ALL&RPMatch=

    • Travis Jonker says:

      Ha – I could see the prospect of a set MG page count not going over well. I like what you said thought about how constraints can sometimes help the writing process. That makes sense to me. And thanks for the word count resource!

  12. PS– in re the 32 pages rule for picture books… it’s pretty flexible! You can put two words on one page of a picture book. Or no words. Or 200 words. (The latter was much more often done in the past than now.)

  13. Colby Sharp says:

    Can we also put a limit on blog posts to 800 words and podcasts to 20 minutes?

  14. Kiera Parrott says:

    Fascinating discussion, Travis. I’d love to have the perspective of a few middle grade editors in the mix. I’m sure these are the things they think about when working with their authors.

    While I’d love to see some slimmer middle grade fiction, for me it’s more about pacing than length. I find that most readers (reluctant, voracious, or otherwise) need that strong hook. That first plot point needs to come relatively soon (in the first quarter of the book or so) and grab the reader, compelling them to keep turning pages. Sam Eddington mentioned the sagging in the middle, and I find this happens quite often in middle grade. If the pacing is done right, it’s pure magic; a book can be several hundred pages long and readers won’t mind.

    • Travis Jonker says:

      I agree Kiera – it would be interesting to get some editor opinions. And I’m with you (and Sam) on pacing.

  15. Josh Funk says:

    So, the 32 for pb (and even the 224 for Kinney) are because of how printers work – there’s a great explanation here: http://writersrumpus.com/2013/09/24/why-thirty-two-pages/

    At first, I thought this idea was sort of fun. However, after thinking about it (for 3 more minutes), I realized you can’t control artists. And that’s what middle grade authors (or all authors besides me) are. And you can’t control or contain art. Nor would you want to.

    • Travis Jonker says:

      I’m glad you brought up the printing reasons for 32 pages, Josh – that’s another reason I went with 192 – it’s divisible by eight. I agree that more control might not be a good thing, but maybe it would lead to some great things as well

  16. Joanne Toft says:

    What changes when a book becomes digital? Are there the same number of words per page? The books are then tracked by locator number – does this make a difference? Just wondering if students notice the page numbers when reading a e-book? I read the Escape from Lemoncello’s Library from my I pad. It was listed at 293 digital pages. Kids were with me the whole time. (3rd and 4th graders). Do we need a page rule or just good writing and good editors to keep a story tight and the story moving?

  17. Rebecca says:

    Actually from a publisher standpoint… editors sometimes have discussions about the flip side: how short we can go and still call it a middle grade novel? If we are doing books for reluctant readers, is it okay for them to be shorter than 100 pages, or are they not “hefty” enough? I work in the educational market, so it’s a little different than the trade market. But keeping printing costs down (while maintaining good book design, adequate white space and font size, etc.) is always a concern.

    And as an editor, I agree with Joanne’s comment above–we need good writing and good editors to keep the story tight and moving. I think page counts or word counts actually help that more than hurt it, but those rules aren’t the only way to reach the goal of a good story.

  18. Julie says:

    Excellent discussion! As one who reads for the Maine Student Book Award and did Middle Grade fiction for the CYBILS I often cringe when I see the book is over 300 pages. As a librarian I find my students often don’t have the stamina or time to get through a longer book. But I do think it is in the editing and the pacing. I will slog through the middle of a book and end up loving the ending but will my students have the patience to get through it? Food for thought….

  19. Shoshana says:

    I like this in a personal taste sense, but then, I tend to write short in my own fiction. The idea of applying such a specific guideline worries . Educational texts (fiction and nonfiction) usually have lots and lots of guidelines, and my sense is that so do leveled readers. Both of these types of writing have their place, but the books kids read for pleasure, especially once they’re past the point of worrying about which blends and which sight words they know so far, should be allowed to show them in every way possible that writing can be whatever they want it to be.

    I grew up with the Babysitters’ Club books, each of which was 120 pages, with the exception of Super Specials. There was much to love about this series (I mean it), but it *was* formulaic enough to be written by a team of ghostwriters. It was one worthy reading choice, and each time I picked up one of its slim installments, I knew what I was getting. I also knew how many different choices (in many senses, including length) I could add to the same reading pile.

  20. Great perspective. I’d never thought of establishing a page number cap similar to PBs.

  21. The point about page count versus word count is a good one. Those seemingly shorter books of yore probably do have denser text per page.

    I very much enjoy being lost in a world like Rowling’s or Dickens (I adore Victorian novels and am currently listening to Gaskell’s North and South). As a lifelong fantasy reader, it seems to me that such books often require sufficient space for the author to do the necessary world building and it is then more a case (as Keira, Sam, and others have noted) about pacing. I’ve read those that I never want to end and others that I give up due to tedium.

    But I also am a big fan of spare writers (being one myself:). Rebecca Stead, to my mind, is the master of this sort of writing — her last two books were tight, short, and deep. The One and Only Ivan also fits this form (over 300 pages, but I bet the word count is closer to When You Read Me.) This isn’t about providing easier books for newly independent readers, but a different sort of book completely. Complex, deep, but spare.

  22. When You REACH Me:)

  23. Mer says:

    No of course not!! How crazy. What specialists, educators and parents should be doing however is paying attention to their audiences. Some times and places and audiences are more or less appropriate for longer or shorter books or for high interest or action books as opposed to philosophic or ‘larger issue’ books. We do not need more ‘one size fits all’ constraints on reading!! Let children in school pick at least some of their required books from a list with varying lengths and subject matter. As a child I gravitated to long involved books as I loved reading and never wanted a book to end. Friends who also loved to read but instead wanted short action packed books and keep ‘em coming…

  24. Susie Highley says:

    Lots of great points. Believe it or not, I’m listening to The Giver (never read it before). It packs in a lot for 180 pages! That and The Outsiders (also circa 180 p.) are two of the most-loved novels at my middle school.

  25. Jonathan Hunt says:

    While I agree that there are exceptions (yes, Frances Hardinge, you may have as many pages as you want) most middle grade fiction would be better served by being trimmed by 15-20%.

    I hear lots of authors say (Iike Sage Blackwood above) that they have an audience that doesn’t care about the length of their books, and I’m sure that’s true. But as a teacher or librarian with a broad view of the child population, you figure that 25% of your kids are avid readers and will read anything, another 25% probably won’t read anything but Wimpy Kid and such, which leaves 50% who will read things depending on a variety of factors (one of which is length). It’s kind of perplexing why publishers would make their books appeal to a smaller audience rather than a broader one.

    I asked an editor about this once–and I’m not sure how true to the entire industry her response was–but she basically said there is a lot of pressure from authors and agents to have the higher page counts. They’ll just take a bloated manuscript to another house rather than trimming it.

    • Sam Bloom says:

      To add to your first point (sub-point?), Jonathan: Megan Whalen Turner may also write as many pages as she wants. IF she is actually writing anymore.

  26. It’s obviously an interesting question because it has generated so much discussion. I think the question is similar to the one on vocabulary. Do you write a book without challenging vocab so you don’t alienate some readers? Do you write a shorter story for those children who don’t have the attention spans? As a middle grade author, I find this a pretty sad way to think about my books. It’s as if we are admitting our art needs a crutch; a way to trick these kids into eating their veggies. Books should not be written for a formula that we think will lead to maximum sales. I say, write your book the way it needs to be written, cut what needs to be cut. Write the books that only you can write. Let the world sort these things out. My readers love the challenging vocab. My second book was 300 pages and they wanted more. It all works out in the end. Kids are great at letting you know exactly where you went wrong!

  27. Martha Bisek says:

    As a youth services librarian in a public library – what really irks me is the assignment from the school teacher to read a book that is 200 pages. Kids will come in and choose a perfectly acceptable, appropriate 192 page book, and then discard it because it doesn’t meet the assignment requirement.

    • Kids can be so literal! I wonder if you can reach out to the teachers and ask them to say “a book that is about 200 pages, plus or minus 24 pages.” Also, chances are good that those books are over 200 pages–but the numbering starts after the title page, copyright page, and table of contents, etc.

  28. Nina says:

    I cannot say that I agree. Different strokes for different folks. I was and remain an extremely fast reader. When books were short they went by too quickly. The books you mention are all excellent and I wouldn’t change that. Shorter books are less daunting for the more reluctant but what I have found it is that they are even more facilitated by larger fonts and more space between lines. As a young person I loved the heft and longer immersion of a fat/bog book and I still do.

  29. Paul W. Hankins says:

    While not a middle grade novel, I’ve been slogging through (but enjoying again) Toni Morrison’s THE BLUEST EYE (which appears on Scholastic’s Reading Counts lists for quizzable books). This one clocks in at just over 210 pages which would fit that 25 over and under invitation.

    I also like that a comment above cites THE GIVER (another re-read in advance of the film’s release). Talk about a book that feels condensed into its slim 180 page count.

    But then I think about the middle school teachers who may try to tackle of OF MICE AND MEN with 7th or 8th grade readers (it happens). There’s a lot to unpack in just under 115 pages.

    Sometimes I wonder if it is the page number or how we make the pages count for our readers.

    Great conversation. Miss you, Travis. Hope you are enjoying this summer season of reading, friend!

  30. Sheila Ruth says:

    I think we need a variety of different books for middle-grade readers. Some short, some long, some easy to read, some more complex, etc. Artificially limiting them to 192 pages makes no sense to me, because it assumes that all readers are the same. My son, for example, was an advanced reader who craved longer, more complex stories, but wasn’t ready for some of the things dealt with in many YA novels.

    • I think Sheila Ruth hits the nail on the head. All readers are NOT the same, nor are all stories. Plus, “middle grade” category is often divided into “older/upper MG” and “younger/lower MG.” Why limit the discussion to an arbitrary number of pages, as in “one size fits all”? It never has; it never will.

  31. James Ponti says:

    Here’s one writer’s opinion (and it is only that) but I think word count and page count are misleading guides to length. I say this as someone who was a very reluctant reader as a kid and who has worked most of his professional life in television before switching to writing Middle Grade fiction. But the complexity of plot, the style of writing, and the flow of content dictates the experience far more than that quantifiable size. I spend a very large part of my writing time reading aloud to check for rhythm, pace, flow, etc… (I think this is a result of my background writing dialogue but I think of the books as being spoken.) And as I read aloud I go back and rewrite to hone the flow so that the book moves. This doesn’t mean dumb down or make easy, but it does mean that I try to improve the reading experience.

    It’s funny that you mention From the Mixed Up Files because that is the one book that hooked even reluctant me as a kid and I’m sure there is some truth to the concept that it’s page count was part of the allure, but it’s a misleading page count because it’s a story with a smaller cast of characters and more limited opportunities for dialogue. The same complexity of content told against a different backdrop with more characters would be undoubtedly longer.

    The problem I have with stricter page count goals is that it is exactly that which works against us in television. The length of television shows is dictated to the second. This was true when I worked for Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, PBS, History Channel, etc… Furthermore the act structure dictated by the commercial breaks creates a rhythm that leads to sameness and predictability. We know that this person is going to be the guilty person because there’s not enough time for another character to have a confessional scene. We know they won’t live happily ever after because there are still fourteen minutes left in this episode. It is no coincidence that the surge in quality television we’ve had in recent years has originated on networks such as HBO, AMC and now Netflix where the storytelling constraints are more flexible.

    The first two books in my current series Dead City came in at 277 and 328 pages. Believe me, i would have liked for them to have been shorter but they didn’t. Undoubtedly book 3 which I’m writing now will be a bit longer than 2 because of the storylines that need to be resolved. But I never start out with a page length goal. I tell a story that is as complex and developed as a standard feature film (probably a holdout from my days in television and my college experience majoring in screenwriting). But that seems to me to be the right amount of story for Middle Grade readers. When I write that story, it comes out in the 300 page range. The only place I am concerned about word count is with chapters, which I want to be of roughly consistent length. They tend to be in and around 2,000 words and this is motivated by rhythm and flow as well as a concern for the kid who is reading the book in bed and can’t go to sleep until the end of a chapter.

    To me dictating the length of books is like saying that paintings should only be a certain size because of what fits well on the wall of the art classroom. But again, that’s just me.

  32. Christina says:

    I found this article interesting as page number has never been a qualifier for me when i was reading. In middle school my friends an I were reading Stephen King, Jurassic Park, and longer novels. To me what matters is the content and vocabulary. The joy of reading a book and diving into something new and exciting.

    I want my children to take on longer books. If they have to slow down and read the book in smaller bites, then so be it they will learn to manage their time to accomplish the task. I feel as though fitting a book to 192 pages may remove the building of a pertinent life skill.

  33. I’m with Colby on this one.

  34. Alan Gratz says:

    As a writer of middle grade fiction, I’m guilty of writing the almost-300 page book for middle grade readers. (275 pages is where most of my books tend to fall, almost by accident. It’s certainly not intentional.)

    The Harry Potter books really did open things up for middle grade authors to write long, and while I think that’s great–and there are lots of kids reading much longer books now as a result–I think we’ve perhaps swayed too far that direction. It seems like almost EVERYTHING is on the long side now. I was thinking about this recently myself, about how, when I was a kid, everything seemed to be the length of Hatchet and Island of the Blue Dolphins and Tuck Everlasting and Wait Til Helen comes. That thin, trade paperback-sized book that filled the spinner rack at the local library. I’m sure books like that are still being published, and of course there were longer books being published back then as well, as people have pointed out. But I think the default size for middle grade used to be one thing, and now it’s another. And while I don’t want to see any hard and fast rules for page count, I do think this is a great way to open the discussion of writing shorter (shortish?) again. I’m trying to do that, in fact, with a standalone I’m working on now. I think it will take one or two very successful shorter novels to break the big-MG trend, and then perhaps things will normalize. (Or, knowing publishing, swing in the totally opposite direction for a few years…)

  35. Alan Gratz says:

    Another thought: all the shortish books I can think of from the past and present are largely contemporary and historical. To put it a different way, you don’t see a lot of epic fantasy written in under 200 pages. Is the page count boom a consequence of the heavier amount of fantasy we see on the shelves today? Can you write a good, immersive fantasy in less than 200 pages? I’m sure someone out there has a good example–let me know! How long were the Lloyd Alexanders? The Sharon Cooper books? Travis points out Wrinkle in Time and When You Reach Me as close to the mark, but even those are contemporary fantasies.

    • I’m a life-long fantasy fan and, dismayed pre-Harry Potter at my fellow teachers’ general distaste for the genre, wrote a book for them, Fantasy Literature in the Classroom and then, post-Harry Potter, did a new edition. Some more recent (as opposed to older classics such as The Wizard of Oz) recommendations from the 1st ed include Alexander’s The Book of Three (190 p), Coville’s Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher (176 p), and Levine’s Ella Enchanted (241 p). Cooper’s The Dark is Rising is 232 pages. Wrede’s Dealing with Dragons is 240 pages. I remember thinking that Ella Enchanted and Dealing with Dragons seemed unusually long back then! The various editions of The Wizard of Oz are all under 200 pages. Harry Potter truly changed the concept of fantasy book length for this age (and by that I mean kids around 8-10 rather than the 11-12 year olds that would be moving into stuff like LOTR and such longer epic fantasy not written expressly for them).

  36. Lynne Perednia says:

    The notion that books must fit into certain molds is as appalling to me as the notion that all students — all children — must fit into the same mold. So much for choice, one of the hallmarks of developing readers and critical thinkers. So much for recognizing and celebrating difference. This also goes for teachers who assign books of certain length, or who confine students to reading books with certain levels — Lexile or otherwise. Rather than confining readers and writers to a mandated length, we need to do our best to open up students’ worlds by allowing them to explore a vast variety of material.

    • Lynne Ryder says:

      Here, here Lynne P! While I understand the rationale of many who have spoken up here, imposing a page count restriction is, ultimately, not in the best interest of readers, no matter how convenient it might be for everyone else. Readers interests and reading preferences of young people are only as divergent as the variety of books made available to them, so why place limitations? How does that serve their interests? A story takes as long as it takes to be told properly. Let readers sort out what works and doesn’t work for them on their own.

  37. Ms. Yingling says:

    Hmmm. Actually, if we also set a standard font size, it would be helpful. Middle grade readers will physically recoil from books where the font is too small and there is not much white space. If authors were held to a 200 page limit, I think we would see much better written books, because more editing would be involved. My book reviews, for the most part, come in at just around 300 words! There will always be exceptions, but it would be so much easier to talk students into reading books if they were not 400+ pages. There is a feeling of accomplishment to finishing a book, especially for struggling readers.

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