Monday, August 8, 2011

I Don't Wanna Grow Up...

Here's an interesting turn of events in the literary world: more grown-ups read young adult books than young adults.

Is this really a surprise? Look at the Twilight Series. I saw more women in their mid-20s through 40s reading it than teen girls. And Harry Potter? Adults were just as enthralled with the adventures of the "Chosen One" as their own children.  Parents and children are sharing books. How weird is that?

I think it's a great thing. As an adult that has never stopped reading YA literature, I think it's fantastic that adults and children can share in these stories. And if it's really good YA, then adults will certainly come away from a book with a completely different interpretation than their kiddos. Go back and read some books you enjoyed as a child. It's the same book, but reading it as an adult is such a completely different experience. It's all about perspective.

And it's awesome for the industry. Even when the economy went into the crapper back in 2009, YA books surged by 30% in total sales! Add e-publishing and easy access to new and indie YA writers, there's more great stuff for parents and their kids alike.

Literary snobs scoff at this, looking down from their hardback books that smell of musty basements. Peter Pan Syndrome indeed! They're quick to accuse adults of succumbing to pure escapism when delving into a book written by Rowling, Meyer, Riordan, or Suzanne Collins. And my answer to that is simple:


Our lives are full of middle of the night feedings, cleaning up vomit, bills stacking up, worrying about aging parents, a national economic crisis, and all the other stressful and crappy adult things on our minds in the real world. Escaping to another world, living through a young adult protagonist's eyes, and overcoming massive obstacles without help from adults...they give us not just a form of escape, but a sense of empowerment.

And how great is it to discuss a great book with your child? Gives you something to talk about at the dinner table, doesn't it? Many mothers have bonded with their teen daughters over the Twilight Series. I've seen moms and dads dressed in their Hogwarts best during book and film premiers. Reading becomes a family affair, something to be shared between parent and child.

Adults sharing YA literature with teens can only be a wonderful thing.


Tiyana, aka "Yoyo" said...

Hey, a good story is a good story, right? I know I certainly don't mind reading YA every now and then. :D

It's good that kids these days have so many stories to choose from, though. I wish I was encouraged to read more growing up!

Jay Noel said...

Thanks T.

My only concern is the lack of reading by adolescent boys. It seems we lose them after age 12. Many turn to magazines, but lose interest in books.

Personally, I believe there aren't enough books that interest young men between age 13-18.

Phats said...

Great post!! I read the hunger games series and that fell in YA it was AWESOME!!

M Pax said...

It's great that parents & kids can bond over books.

Mr. Shife said...

Excellent points, and I am so glad my wife is a reader so she can share with the kids because I just read Sports Illustrated and Entertainment Weekly. If I read a book a year it is a good year. Have a good weekend.

Ian Montgomery said...

Good to see you back, Jay.

The last time I visited a book store, the titles and blurbs for YA material seemed more enticing than anything else on display. Even though the scale says that I should be about six years past adolescence, it feels there is still a lot of teenager left in me.

As for stories I enjoyed as a child, that Wayside School book is calling for a revisitation.

Jay Noel said...

I really do think it's important to get more boys reading, as we seem to lose them after age 12-14.

I'm pretty sick of vampires and werewolves, though.

Laura Eno said...

I still love YA, both reading and writing it. My 16 yr old grandson is a voracious reader, so unusual for a boy that age, unfortunately.

Jay Noel said...

Laura, That's a wonderful thing.

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