Thursday, September 19th, 2019

Is it a Chapter Book or Middle Grade?

Question mark of booksWhat’s the difference between a middle grade novel and a chapter book?

The lines can often seem blurry – but the truth is that each is a unique format in children’s publishing. The table below clarifies the essential but often subtle differences between the two:





Reader is usually between the ages of 8 and 12. Reader usually between the ages of 7-10 (grades 2-4).


Hero is usually 10-13, and in middle school (grades 4-8). Heroes usually between the ages of 7-10. May have anthropomorphic heroes.


150-200 pages (average). 20,000 – 60,000 words. 45-60 pages (average). 5,000-20,000 words.


Few, if any, illustrations. May be plentiful, even on every page. Illustrations go with text and are usually in black and white.


Action is important, but description/exposition is also important. Stakes can be high. Character journey and development is key. Action is key. Stakes are lower. Characters tend to stay consistent. Little major character development.

This chart is one of several from Just Write for Middle Grade! my 14-week course in writing chapter books and middle grade novels.  Please visit for more information.

Series NavigationIs it YA or Middle Grade?Is it YA or Adult Fiction?


4 Responses to “Is it a Chapter Book or Middle Grade?”
  1. This chart, and the MG/YA one, are so helpful, Emma. Thank you!

  2. When I first wrote my MG story I thought it was considered a novel. The more I learned about the publishing industry I began to realize it was probably more of a chapter book. After studying this chart, I feel confident it is indeed a chapter book. Thank you, Emma, for the clarification.

    Great post!

    Take care,

    Donna L Martin

  3. Great chart and good solid information. Thank you.

  4. Thanks, this is very helpful along with the others.

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