Posted on June 17, 2020 at 11:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

We’re familiar with the idea of sexual harassment and abuse in young adult literature — Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak, after all, came out over two decades ago now.

But now, such heavy topics are making an appearance in middle-grade literature.

The New York Times talked to several writers about what prompted them to include the themes in their new or recent books.

Kate Messner (Chirp), Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (Fighting Words), Barbara Dee (Maybe He Just Likes You), Lexie Bean (The Ship We Built), and Sonja Solter (When You Know What I Know) cited the broader conversation about consent and assault, in addition to their own personal experiences.

While not all readers (or parents of young readers) are excited to see sexual assault addressed in these books, psychologists point out that inappropriate and nonconsensual touching often happens before high school — so waiting to discuss it until then is often counterproductive.

You can read more about how these authors handle sexual abuse in their middle-grade fiction in the New York Times.

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