Saturday 26 October 2013

It's OK to Read YA

More and more, adults are reading novels written and published for the YA (Young Adult) market. This blog post is a companion piece to a presentation that I am giving at the NSLA conference this weekend—lots of links and titles and authors and articles for you to explore. 

YA is not ALL Ghosts & Vampires, (but there are some good ones.) A boy whose father is a grave robber, two young cancer-stricken lovers, a prisoner of the Nazis in France, the best love story ever (with 80’s music), a very creepy ghost meets some flappers, a real-live Cinderella, growing up in a whore-house in New Orleans, a sexy and sensitive vampire, and a Voynich manuscript mystery: do these sound like YA to you? Meet the new YA!  Do those sound good? Try them:

Rotters by Daniel Kraus, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell, The Diviners by Libba Bray, Gorgeous by Paul Rudnick, Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys, Blood by K.J. Wignall, and The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman.

Yes, the themes are mature. But so are teenagers. Some of these books may not be suitable for a 13 year-old, but then another 13-year old may have already lived through worse. We have to give teens credit for being able to handle mature themes in books. There’s plenty of controversy surround YA books: they get banned all the time.  Some adults think teens shouldn’t read these books,  but “challenging the books doesn’t change the teen years".

Why are adults reading these books (and loving them?) Have you ever snuck into the teen area of the library or book store and pretended to be picking out a book for your son or daughter? It is OK to read YA!  Here are some authors to check out (in no particular order):  Maggie Stiefvater, Paul Rudnick, Robin Wasserman, Elizabeth Wein , Malinda Lo, Philip Reeve, Carrie Mac, A.S. King, John Green, Daniel Kraus, Libba Bray, Maureen Johnson, Rainbow Rowell, Andrew Smith, Sarah Dessen, Lurlene McDaniel, Ruta Sepetys .  All of these authors already have a pretty big fan base with teens, and adults are starting to figure out why. These books are savvy, exciting, terrifying, funny, witty, creepy, real, and grab you from the first page. There’s often very little time in a YA book for too much navel-gazing. It is all about the character and the story and often, some really good writing. 

If you want more, here are some booklists. And don’t forget about audiobooks, because many of these books have been produced as high-quality audios that will make you stand up and pay attention. Have fun on your YA journey. Share a book you loved with a teen, and find out what they are reading—you might just like it. 

Booklists on the AVRL website:  Dystopia For Beginners, Ghosts & Vampires, Got Wolves?, Faerie Realms, FantasticFantasies, Realistic Fiction, Teen Romance. There are even more on our website, so go explore!  Still skeptical that YA is not for you, the discerning adult reader? Try some read-alikes suggested in this article.

Celebrate YA books with us next week, when Teen Read Week gets into gear! Lots of programs and a contest, so stay tuned!  

--Angela J. Reynolds, Head of Youth Services

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