Sunday, April 11, 2010

Why Write for Middle School Age Readers?

Bonnie J. Doerr has taught students from kindergarten to college in eight states. Her degrees in reading education, combined with a brief post as a science teacher, led her to write ecological mysteries. I asked her about writing YA books:

Why did you decide to write a YA series?

Let me begin by saying my books are for the younger teens. So my series is more tween than what readers usually think of as YA.

I didn't start out to pen a series. But the characters got so involved in their environmental passion that they wouldn't quit after one success story. When they saw injustice they simply had to do something about it. I must admit, it was also a great excuse for Angelo and Kenzie to spend time together. Alone. In remote areas. In the sun, sand, and water.

Why do you write for this age group? Do you have a certain mindset when writing for teens?

Well, first, this is the age (middle-schoolish) when kids often lose interest in reading. Let's face it. There's a great deal of competition for kids time and energy out there.So I wanted to write fast-paced, fun reads that could hold their attention and that might actually get into their hands via the gatekeepers. By this I mean, most books for middle schoolers are still being vetted by adults: teachers, parents, mentors, etc. So, I write about topics and an area I feel passionate about--ecology, nature, and the Florida Keys. And I know that there's nothing objectionable about those topics. They're even educational subjects. Yet, I hope when my books are read, the fact that learning is taking place is secondary to readers losing themselves in the story.

And no, I don't have a different mindset when I write. I deeply care about my topics, and I research them carefully through travel and personal experience. My writing actually allows me to further pursue lifelong goals and enrich my life.

Bonnie's book Island Sting is out now, and her next book Stakeout will be published in January 2011. You can visit Bonnie at her website here.

1 comment:

Melissa (My words and pages) said...

I just might have to look into her books with my son. He will be moving up to middle-school next year, and well he is a difficult one to get reading at times with the restraints on his time. Thank you!