Open a recent children’s book or a middle-grade reader and you’ll find a book with shorter chapters, minimal description, and lots of action. Screens are transforming the way children look at entertainment. They want to constant action; small skirmishes until the final battle. No longer do they want paragraphs and pages of description (Harry Potter is an anomaly) – give them the rush of adrenaline and give it to them now.
Ralph Mouse, Charlotte’s Web, Alice in Wonderland – not enough action. It just doesn’t move fast enough. Give them a Rick Riordan story. Something that has you running headlong to the next encounter. Don’t bog them down with a bunch of words that don’t deliver action.
Most of the Newbery books languish on my classroom’s shelves. The Warriors books zoom off. Why? Because there’s action. Need it be said – violence and fighting which is easier to do in books about cats. (If this scale of violence were set in the real world, there is no way these books would be middle grade) Same for any of the books set in some fictional fantasy world. Conflict gets more leeway when it’s human versus fantasy creature.
Modern books for modern kids means there should be action; be it adventure and danger or physical conflict.
I can’t remember the last time I saw a Beverly Cleary or Judy Blume or Gary Paulsen story in the hands of one of my students. The boys go for full-throttle action or else graphic novels, and the girls want fantasy, magic, and action. All want laughs.
Just make the story fast and furious.