Mother Daughter Book Reviews is pleased to welcome author Jemima Pett as a guest contributor with us today. Ms. Pett is here to share information about the “Great Middle Grade Reads” group on Goodreads.
If the answer to all three is yes, then you probably know all about the Great Middle Grade Reads group on Goodreads. No? Well, read on.
Goodreads is one of many enjoyable places to list the books you read, keep a tally of what you’ve read and what you want to read (your To Be Read or TBR list). Many people post reviews and judge books by the reviews there, as well as on the buying sites. In some ways, Goodreads is better than buying sites because you can drill down into who the reviewers are, what else they review and get a feel for how their tastes match your own.
I’d been on Goodreads for about six months when I got a message from SW Lothian about a new group he’d set up specifically for Middle Grade book readers. I asked SW about this and he shared his thoughts with me.
“I started GMGR in August 2012 as I found there was nothing that really existed on Goodreads focused on Middle Grade. Everything was completely YA focused. I had no idea how to run a group, I thought I’d only get about 20-50 people to join, and I didn’t want it to be over-run by rules or overbearing Mods (moderators), like some groups I’d seen.”
So what did he want?
“I wanted a group that was run by member discussion, rather than needing to be directed by Mods. I wanted a nice group of different types of readers, including authors, librarians, teachers…”
Since I’d published my own MG books, The Princelings of the East, and was keen to understand more about what readers wanted (okay, and get my books in front of them), I joined up. I found a lovely community, all interested in the same genre, but disagreeing on all sorts of things within that, as a good community may do. I hung out, made some good friends and did whatever I wanted – and had fun. I found I could promote my books – but only in the Author’s corner – a fact which stops some good discussions being made very boring by ‘buy my book’ requests. Most Goodreads groups have similar rules, but many new authors continue to forget them.
It’s one of very few rules on the group. Most of the others are about the nominations for our Book of the Month, mainly to ensure they are accessible without undue expense. The main one is the mantra that pops up to remind everyone as they post on the site “Respect, Tolerance, Good vibes. Support.” It’s a great way of cooling a heated discussion about a book – and that does happen!
So, SW got his 50 members. He was surprised when it got to 500, amazed when it reached 1000, astounded at 1500, “and I’m thrilled that it still grows,” he says. Of course, membership does not equal activity, but judging from the regular new members introducing themselves, and the ever-growing number of nominations for our Books of the Month, it looks like a good proportion are active on the site. The October book was Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer, and there were eleven books to choose from in the November poll. That led to Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt being our current BOTM
What about Middle Grade aged readers?
Goodreads has a rule about members being over 13 years old, so that makes it difficult. We have some people whose parents supervise them, or get books for review for them, and post up their reviews in the appropriate section. We also have school groups that participate, supervised by their teachers. That can produce very lively debate, the big question of “What is a Middle Grade Read?” being one of them – it has a thread all of its own. It can also shift the balance towards the upper end of Middle Grade, but that is counterbalanced at other times, with discussion and involvement.
I’ve been fascinated to be involved, some times more actively than others, with this group. It’s a continual source of knowledge and understanding about what this age group enjoys, as well as new themes and interests – and gaps in the market. Most of all, it gets me reading books that I might not otherwise have noticed.
I asked SW what his plans for the group are.
“Well, I just linger in the background without interfering or pushing my own opinions. I’m open to remodelling or renovation when time permits, but at present, I think people enjoy it as it is. I have set up a GMGR board on Pinterest, and anyone who wants to add books to it can message me to be added to it as a member. It’s used frequently and has stacks of recommendations on it. In some ways I wish we could do better with the read for review and book reviews threads. Of course, most of the offerings are from indie authors, and there’s an unlimited supply of those – but not many kids pick them up and post their reviews. It’s the membership restriction, of course. So we have a thread for reviews by adult members.
“The main thing is that everyone has fun, and members have discussions in an atmosphere of respect, with the right to an opinion without fear of being put down. I’m pleased we’ve had only minor hiccups on the way, so far.”
I think SW’s certainly achieved that. With sections on the Book Of the Month, Specific books/series, Library, MG Blogs and Resources, Book Offers and Giveaways, Currently reading, Read4 Review, Authors’ Corner, and General Discussion, there’s something for all the 1,773 members.
If you’re not one of them, come over and visit. We’re sure you’ll enjoy what you see. You just have to be a Goodreads member to join. It’s all free.
Jemima Pett is the author of the Princelings of the East series of MG time travel/scifi books, as well as editor of the BookElves Anthologies. She is currently working on her new adult science fiction series, starting with The Perihelix, and has been a Moderator of the Great Middle Grade Reads group since August this year.
As well as being the instigator of the GMGR group on Goodreads, SW Lothian is the author of The Quest series and the Time Square series. He is currently devoting most of his spare time to raising awareness of Childhood Cancer, with a view to funding research leading to a cure.