family, Parenting, reading, Young Adult fiction

Why Adults Should Absolutely Read YA

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Well, nothing like going in, guns blazing, with a hot topic discussion post at the start of the year!

First, how are you all? Did you survive the holidays? Thinking about emerging from the turkey dinner stupor to face the world? Still hiding under piles of discarded wrapping paper with bows and tinsel stuck in your hair?

Well, however you find yourself, I shall welcome you back! Let’s get right to it, then!

A few weeks ago, I read part of a rather irksome/disturbing thread on social media; the jist is that there are a lot of people over the age of 21 who strongly feel that anyone who is old enough to legally drink, get married, join the military, and live on their own should not be reading Young Adult fiction.

Excuse me?? Number one, when were the Reading Police established?! Number two, what is wrong with teachers, parents, pediatricians, school counselors and adolescent therapists knowing what our kids are reading?

And even more, what about those authors who write what our kids will be reading? How can they possibly know what their audience is interested in, or lacking, if they don’t connect with 12-17-year-olds?

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Years ago, parents could just let their kids pick up a novel from the YA/juvenile section in the bookstore or library, and be pretty confident that the content would be acceptable for their age. There were plenty of authors that tackled tough subjects like death, disease, drug use, sex before marriage with tact and in a way of presenting facts and both sides of the debate.

Nowadays teen readers are apparently told to go get stoned, get physically intimate, drive too fast, skip school, turn the air blue with their language. Don’t any of these authors have kids themselves?! Would they really want their own precious darlings behaving this way?

As a parent and a YA author myself, I take this responsibility very seriously. I’m not at all naive — I’m totally aware that nowadays many adults consider kids knowing all kinds of sexual lifestyles, swear words, and various political views to not be a bad thing. Well, I — an informed adult — disagree. It’s one thing to be well-educated; it’s another to instill harmful perspectives on young minds that are still forming their views and ambitions.

Warning: The Invisible Moth is officially jumping on her soapbox.

Encouraging teenagers to wait to have sex because they are too special to give their body to just anyone is showing we love them and believe in them to become solid, confident, well-adjusted future wives and husbands. Telling them the consequences of unprotected sex reinforces that we want them to remain healthy and emotionally whole. 

Warning them against using drugs and too much alcohol helps them develop self-care habits that could last a lifetime. Discipline and high self-esteem will provide our future doctors, teachers, parents, leaders with the power to change society, for the better, for generations to come. Showing them that a clean path can also be fun sets them on course for a productive, respect-filled life. 

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Okay, stepping off the soapbox.

Now, here’s why the idea of anyone “grown-up” reading YA is silly is just: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

1.) YA fiction is simply FUN. Since most children/adolescents aren’t past the point of wanting to believe — at least a little — in mythical creatures or flying cars or that you can access another world through your closet, the possibilities in a YA book are endless. 

What adult in the 21st century (with reality being so damn hard most of the time) wants to only read about fictional characters whining that they can’t get a date? Who cares?! Get out of your own grumpy head and go read about storming the castle and saving the endangered race of beautiful talking unicorns! Dream about being a hero! Don’t lose that passion!

2.) YA fiction provides an escape. Yes, most of us know very well that animals don’t really speak human, hypogriffs aren’t legal pets, and we’ll probably never get to live in a magical library. So?? Let us pretend for a few hours!

Children who regularly use their imagination often grow into big people who invent new technology, new medicines, the prototypes for hovercars, more effective academic systems, tools and inventions that make our lives better. LET US IMAGINE.

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3.) Parents and teens reading together is valuable. In recent years, too many high-schoolers don’t communicate or bond with their elders. Yes, this is a problem, trust me. Concurrently reading the same book or series with your 14-year-old is important. Find a subject that interests you both, and take it from there.

White Fang and I have both read and discussed Harry Potter, Warriors, The Illuminae Files, and Beaumont and Beasley, among others. This activity also gives you a great starting point for discussing tough issues, and encouraging your kids to do their research and develop their own points of view.

4.) Not all of us with a certain date on our birth certificates enjoy reading stuff aimed at that age group. I flatout find most murder mysteries/romances/spy thrillers downright formulaic and dull. Yes, I know that I’m somewhat of a square peg in a round hole in this instance. But it’s a fact, and it’s not changing anytime soon.

While I don’t necessarily want to read about being in high school, either, there are plenty more fantasy and speculative fiction choices among the YA sections than the adult. Plus lots of fantasy YA authors still take care to keep their language and explicit content to a minimum, whereas for adults, apparently ALL the barriers have come down. That just isn’t my thing.

5.) If you don’t have a long attention span or not much free time to read, novels aimed at juveniles are usually less than 400 pages long. This is a big deal for me, since my spare time is certainly limited, and if I can make it to the end of the paragraph without losing my place, then, wow, it’s an awesome evening!

Also, since I currently carry all my library books literally on my back, there is just no way in Hades I’m attempting to haul the latest 650-page New York Times bestsellers. No way, sir.

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6.) Whether it’s my personality, my mindset, worldview or whatever, I simply relate better to characters in YA. If you present me with an adult character who’s narrating about whether they can squeeze in an extra 10 minutes at the gym, or if they interpreted the fine print in their car lease properly, I will be either falling asleep or using the book as a footstool.

Whereas, show me the elf who’s hoping to return the enchanted sword to its sacred mountain before the kraken’s released, and I’m on the edge of my seat. Any night I spend reading Warriors will result in big stupid grins and lots of tears on my face. Finding out a secret about a beloved Clan cat will resonate with me for months.

7.) Reading about characters who aren’t jaded yet, full of hope and plans and enthusiasm, makes you want to have that again. Remember when you were in kindergarten, and making an extra blanket into a cape was the most natural thing? When you looked to the skies with an unending sense of wanting more?

Go for that, whether you’re 25, or 30, or 40.

Save the unicorns! Rescue the flying cats! Storm the castle!

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27 thoughts on “Why Adults Should Absolutely Read YA”

    1. Yeah, the comment that got me going on the thread was from a 30-something writer/editor who claimed that the idea of someone his age reading YA was a “just don’t” thing for life. When I read some more of the comments in the thread, I began to understand a lot more why I’m having such a hard time finding acceptable reading material for my 14 y/o son.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hey Daley, I was once a fourteen year old boy. May I make a book suggestion?
        ‘Treasure Island’!
        {The old Wallace Beery/Lionel Barrymore/Jackie Cooper movie version of ‘Treasure Island’ is really good, but, the book is better.}

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks, Icky! White Fang isn’t a huge fan of classics (his screen name actually comes from a Warriors book, heheh), but he does pretty well with them in school! Maybe one day he’ll try them on his own!

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  1. Don’t be a reading snob.
    It does not matter what your reading tastes are, so long as someone is reading, that is awesome.
    There is one exception to the reading snob statement. When a book is made into a movie, it is perfectly acceptable to be a snob and say,’The movie was okay, but the book was better’. 😉
    Happy Reading!
    ~Icky. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love this post! I read everything, from adult to YA to MG, and my favorite books are a mixture of all three.

    And yeah, reading with your kids is AWESOME. My parents always read to me and with me, and it was great that I got to talk to them about the stories that interested me.
    Thank you for the reminder to read what’s interesting, not what’s ‘proper.’ 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. WHAT??? Sorry, brilliant post, I’m just reacting to that thread you mentioned because WHAT??? How dare they–I mean–because–WHAT???

    Sorry. I’m–WHAT???–calm now. Relatively.

    Every single word of this post was excellent, and I especially liked your comments on parents and teens reading together. (Not just because you mentioned my books, either.) XD I’ve always enjoyed discussing my reading with my mom, and it’s formed an important part of our relationship. Most of the books that I read these days are YA or sort-of-YA, for all the reasons you mentioned.

    And yes, there are still bows and tinsel stuck in my hair. It does not look good.

    Also, WHAT??? (Sorry. I just had to do one more.)

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    1. Yeah, this was pretty much my reaction, too. When I read the comment that was, “If you’re over 21 and read YA: Just don’t,” I practically wanted to throw something. My mind started crafting this post almost immediately, as I just could not believe how arrogant/poorly informed these people were.

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      1. Sounds like one of those things you read on the internet, and then when you regain consciousness hours later, you find yourself sitting at your desk in front of a strongly-worded blog post. XD Happens to me all the time.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I feel the same when it comes to certain genres. Sometimes I don’t really get the point of say, a certain joke or point and I come out thinking what on Earth did I just read? This is really relatable and awesome! I love it! 😀

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  5. Ugh, firstly, whenever I see these killjoys crawl out of the woodwork to tell people what they can and cannot enjoy doing in their free time I always groan. I mean what difference does it make to them if people read YA? And secondly- YES- of course people that work with children, are parents, or write for children NEED to have an awareness of the genre. How narrow minded do these people have to be to forget about these practical considerations? (Aside from it obviously being fun and none of their business) There’s also books I’ve read which I don’t regard as YA, and really are more for adults anyway- which proves your point that it’s not all suitable for teens anyway. Just applauding how utterly BRILLIANT this post is by the way- you’re so on point. And yes, sometimes things for adults is boring. The dumbest thing about the argument that “adults shouldn’t read YA” is that it assumes that adults who read YA never read anything else (I could make a safe bet that I read more adult books than the author of that article 😉 ) I was reading “adult” books when I was pretty young, because honestly age does not matter when it comes to book preferences. Awesome post!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I plan to read more YA I have only read one’s i didn’t enjoy but I know there’s good ones out there. We should read whatever with no genre or age restriction

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