Apr 21, 2010

Reading YA Fiction is OK!

Posted by Kirsten at 4/21/2010 02:20:00 AM

I say all of the time that YA fiction is not just for teens. If it was, half of my reading material would be gone. Granted, I read YA fiction for two reasons.

1. I work with teens and it only make sense to understand and know about what they are reading. If I don’t, then I can’t do my job very well. It’s important to know your collection and, for reader’s advisory purposes, to be able to recommend books.

2. Like many other adults, I just like it, which is probably the biggest reason that I read so much YA fiction. It’s entertaining and when it has a message or moral, it generally doesn’t try shove it down my throat. It has the pacing that you expect to find in a children’s book, but the details and types of descriptions and often times topics that you would find in adult fiction. I call it the best of both worlds. YA fiction has not always been popular with adult readers. It has been labeled as “for kids” or “juvenile”. Many adults would not have been caught dead reading YA fiction. Many who did only did so when no one would see it. What happened to change the idea YA fiction was only for teens? Well, Tina Kapinos, in her article Teen Fiction Not Just for Teens Anymore" calls it the “Harry Potter Phenomena”.

The Harry Potter books -- with their complex plots and hefty size -- made it more acceptable for adults to read children's books, said Gail Wetta of Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville. And the advent of these books influenced other writers, said Amy Alessio, teen coordinator for the Schaumburg Township District Library.

More and more often you will find that writer’s who previously only wrote adult fiction are venturing into the YA genre and loving it. For example:

After the Wreck, I Picked Myself Up, Spread My Wings, and Flew Away Daniel X image

Witch & Wizard Hoot image

As with adult fiction, many of the adult reader’s of YA fiction tend to be women. That’s not to say that men don’t read fiction, the trend and numbers just tend to lean towards women. Adult women are reading YA fiction for many reasons, not the least of which is that they read what their children are reading.  Some read for their jobs and some just pick up the books because they look interesting.  Of course, many read YA fiction just because they like them, because they’re fun.

The first thought that comes to mind when many people think of teen fiction is the type with the angsty main character that whines through the entire book. At one time this may have been the case. But, as the definition of YA fiction and YA needs has grown, so has the literature in the genre. The writing has matured and expanded until you can find mysteries, science fiction, romance, fantasy,  historical fiction, realistic fiction and humor. The issues dealt with in the realistic fiction sub-genre don’t deal solely with fluffy materials that sugar coat topics and issues.

The quality of writing overall has “upped” it’s game. Both publishers and the intended audience expect quality for their money and writer’s have responded.  This response is reflected in the sales totals. According to Susan Carpenter’s article Young adult lit comes of ageadult hardcover sales were down 17.8% for the first half of 2009 versus the same period in 2008, children's/young adult hardcovers were up 30.7%.”  The numbers speak for themselves.  Just take a look at USA Today’s Best-Selling Books: The top 100 for 2009 where the top four books on the list belong to Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight Saga. So, if you haven’t been a fan of YA fiction in the past I suggest you give it a try. I’ll even give you a couple of starting points.

    • This list of teen book lists offers four pages of lists. The lists range in topic from The Best YA books and The Best Teen Vampire Fiction to  Best Teen Books About Real Problems, Best Series and


David A. Bedford on April 21, 2010 at 8:40 PM said...

I am an adult male nearing retirement. Nonetheless, I read some teen ficition. I love the Harry Potter books and Madeleine L'Engle. "A Swiftly Tilting Planet" is an outstanding book by any criterion. The question is not whether the book is "adult" or "teen" fiction. The question is whether it is well written and has literary qualities. Please visit my website and search my name on YouTube.

Kate on April 22, 2010 at 1:46 PM said...

Great point. I know a lot of people who read YA books. I just devoured one, Her Mother's Diary ( http://hermothersdiary.com) this week. It dealt with some pretty complex topics like drugs, homelessness, death and redemption. A great book to share with a teen.

Kate on April 24, 2010 at 1:10 PM said...

Looks like my link didn't work. Here it is for anyone interested: Her Mother’s Diary

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