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As many of you can see, I've been a pretty terrible blogger lately! What can I say...Life.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Discussion Topic: How old (or young) should you be to read yound adult fiction?

This was a guest post I did for Shah @ Wordsinsync while she was a on trip to the UK. I hope you had fun, Shah!

This was the topic of discussion around the proverbial table a few weeks ago on a WEbook.com forum I was participating in and the discussion got pretty lively and interesting. So, I thought I would bring it here to Shah's lovely blog.

So, how old (or young) should you be to read young adult novels. According to publishing companies, they aim for 14 to 21 year-olds. However, my cousin started reading young adult at 12 and a friend of my mother's has a 10 year old that brings home novels from this section of the school library because she wants to read more advanced books (plus, she thinks it is cool to read a big book.) But are they too young? Many young adult novels deal with such horrors as death, rape, the end of the world, adultery, murder, genocide, etc. Are 10 and 12 year-olds able to face that? Should they be protected from it? Should parents be reading it with them? (If any of you know me, you probably know that I advocate for family reading and that parents should be reading almost everything their children are reading so that they may explain difficult concepts!) Then again, some young adult focus on story lines such as friendship, loyalty to the ones you love, the outsider, difficulties at school, divorce, love as the most powerful force on Earth, strength, and courage. These are things young people can relate to and themes they can look up to. So, do we draw the line?

Now, on a lighter note, how young should you be to read young adult novels. I am 23 and I LOVE young adult. I race to the young adult shelves when stepping into a bookstore and rarely do I venture out unless looking for something specific. In the WEbook discussion, there were also several middle aged people and even a 65 and 73 year old that still confess to reading young adult. Should they (and myself) move on?

Now, it's your turn! Note some of the questions above. How would you answer them?
What do you read? Are you already reading young adult? Are you still reading young adult?


  1. I think a kid should be allowed to read them at any age once they understand the concepts and can realize that they are not really happening or can at least tolerate them. After all, it isn't anything they wouldn't already see on television.

    Once you hit the point that you're able to read them, I don't see why you shouldn't read them at any age. Why shouldn't an elderly person enjoy a "simpler" book now and again?

  2. You can never be too old for a well-written young adult fiction. It's like saying you can be too old for ice cream!

  3. In my opinion you are never too old to read young adult fiction. Sometimes we all look for a simple book to read that has a nice ending and perhaps some supernatural to it. It feels nice to not have to read a book that's 600 pages long just because it is a popular book.
    On the other hand, it should really be up to the kid who is reading young adult fiction whether he/she is mature enough to fully comprehend what it is all about. I really agree with Matt there.

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  5. I agree you can never be too old for well-written fiction, but I think the other end of the spectrum depends on the kid and the book. Some kids aren't ready for graphic violence at 12. I still don't like it. But stories about friendship and loyalty are universal themes that I think a lot of 12-year-olds would benefit from.


  6. I was in the third grade when I read my first Michael Crichton ("Sphere"), and I LOVED it. Soon afterwards, I read "Jurassic Park" and "The Lost World"--these were adult fiction (not even YOUNG adult fiction) and I could easily understand the concepts in them (some of the science was a little over my head, but other than that, no problems). I actually loved Crichton, John Grisham, Mark Twain and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle more than I did young adult stuff like Judy Blume, even though I read her, Caroline B. Cooney and Gary Paulsen.

    My mom would often read the same books as I would (both young adult and adult fiction) and we would talk about the violence or difficult issues in them.

    Maybe this wouldn't work for every child, but it worked really, really well for my sister and I.

  7. I think kids should, because how many kids have read young adult fiction and to add on, their friends tell them about it. When I was ten, I started reading young adult fiction, but it depended what sort of book it was. I remember I was reading 'The Time Travellers Wife' and on page 17, the sex began and I was reading in my classroom! I immediately told my mum, but I kept on reading it. It turned out to be an excellent book and I recommend it to young adults.

  8. I agree with Carla on this one but I wouldn't condone young teenagers reading some of the YA books available. Their level of emotional maturity and understanding is limited and I personally believe topics such as rape, sex, graphic violence, etc. should be adult only. I, myself, read what my children were reading so I was aware and could discuss with them topics that needed clarification. There's so much great literature out there that our children could read without reading questionable content.

  9. A good story is a good story, period. Doesn't matter if it's a graphic novel, a children's book, an young adult novel or a novel. If it's a story you connect with and enjoy, then read it and share it with others. :) I still read Where the Wild Things Are, and Oh, the Places You'll Go! from time to time.

    The last few YA books I've read were a result of authors I love to read. The Tiffany Aching series by Terry Pratchett and his novel Nation, are prime examples of this. I love his stories and writing style, and just because some of his books are considered YA because the hero's in the books is a kid is no reason for me to skip them and miss a delightful and brilliant story.

    The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman is another example of an author I enjoy, when I came across this book it was by an author I trusted and was, in face a grand read.

    I have a great appreciation for authors that are writing books at appeal to the younger generation. If there is a book out there that is going to get kids way from texting and actually reading complete sentences, combined in a manner that creates character development and a plot, well done there. I think the Meyer vampire romance books are complete rubbish, but I appreciate that she is inspiring preteen girls and soccer moms around the world to read.

    Clearly I could keep rambling about this, but I think my point has been sufficiently expressed. :) Cheers.

  10. The YA genre is so broad that everything in the genre isn't appropriate for all readers. Some are too young and will find some of the content uncomfortable and some will find the topics too young for them. Also, there are many books that are written for the young adult audience that are appropriate for even the youngest of readers. I talk about appropriateness on my blog so that parents can pick out books their kids will like and be comfortable with.

    I do feel that for the most part if a kid wants to read something then you let them read it. If they find something uncomfortable they'll skip the passage or put the book down.

  11. Well, I agree with the 'never too old for ice cream' theory. A good writer will appeal to readers of all ages. Perhaps some of us still think we're seventeen – and a toast to eternal youth to those that do! At the other end of the scale, I believe that children under high school age (12-13) should be reading out loud to their parents. Dtwilight would read to me every day, and I pulled her up sometimes on chapters that became a little 'hairy', pardon the pun. Even though they may see it all on TV - the written word holds far more power. There's never been a movie that's captured entire book content, in so far as emotions and inner monologue is concerned. Reading words, and understanding their meaning, are entirely different things. A little care should be taken to preserve young minds. It will come to them eventually; no doubt sooner than expected. It’s a tricky one, AubrieAnne. I say that, if they can understand the content, then they’re old enough to read it.

    Blessings to a beautiful lady
    Moana x

    PS. Loved The Graveyard Book, and Neverwhere, and anything Neil Gaiman has ever written <3

  12. I still can appreciate young adult..(Did I mention I'm 31? lol)

  13. Hey how did you get a picture of my bookcase:) It often looks just like that!

    My daughter starting reading young adult with parental guidance at age 7. Children books bored her and didn't challenge her reading level. Now she is recommending books to me to read and some of them are pretty interesting and fun to read:) Right now I am reading Red Pyramid by Rick Roirdan that she just finished. She loves anything with mythology in the story line:)

  14. Matt...I agree, all long as they understand what they are reading. Not only does that protect them from "harsher" topics, but it also aids them in continuing to enjoy reading. If they don't understand what they are reading then they won't enjoy it.

    Patrick...I like that comparison.

    a woman's right to shoes...I think you bring up lots of good points, especially the one that says it depends on the child. Every child is different. Some 10 year olds may get it, while others may not.

    Donna...Welcome. Thanks so much for finding my blog and for following. I can't wait to hear more from you! Join in on the conversations at anytime! Everyone here is very open.

    Carla...Yes, I too don't like to read all the graphic violence. Even all the blood sucking in the Vampire Diaries was unsettling for me. I don't mind action scenes and post apocalyptic novels where people have battles and it's all about survival, but the sociopathic violence, rape, bloddy, emotionless murder, and suicide is entirely unsettling to me. In fact, my WOrld Literature class has been so hard because the stories we are reading are NOT pleasant! It's sad.

    Natalie...Wow! I can see how some people that young can handle some of those books. I actually didn't even like reading until I hit about age 12 or so. At that time, I did read Dante's Inferno, but I was mostly reading Harry Potter, Caroline B Cooney :), and Todd Strasser.

    dtwilight...I think that is what makes you different than some 10 year olds at the time. You went to your mom and talked about it. That's a really wonderful thing and don't ever stop doing that because your mom will always be there even when you have to talk about something really awkward or scary! I talk to my mom all the time and we talked about the books I read too or event he movies we watched. It's a really good situation!

  15. Shirley...You are one of my heroes! I am so for parents reading the books their children are going to read or are already reading. Then, you can discuss the books with them, good, bad, awkward, fun, whatever they may be. I also feel that it is a good way to open communication lines between parents and their children. If you talk about books together, you WILL talk about other things together. Your children will be more likely to come to YOU too. I know because I DID!

    Richard...I am 100% with you and I wish to share your response with my creative writing class because there are people there that say writing young adult is not "prestigious." Bull! Like you said, a GOOD book is a GOOD book. Thanks for joining in.

    Sara...I am happy you talk about appropriatness on your blog. I have thought about adding that to my reviews after discussing this topic.

    Moana...You bring up so many new and excellent points to this discussion! I'm right there with you when you say that the written word is so much more powerful, especially because you can get into someone's head which can be a very scary thing. As much as mind reading sounds fun, it is not a power I would want to possess. I also agree that a writer that can appeal to all audiences is one of the best, and definately the most successful!!! We talk a lot about crossover novels in my class and it's one of my favorite topics. I like that when we workshop a piece we sometimes discuss who is appeals to and how we can make it appeal to more people! It's pretty nifty!

    Boobies...Wonderful! I love it!

    The Adventurer...lol. Mine isn't as big, but it certainly looks like that. I think your daughter is too cool! I definately think there are still parts of this industry that some writers and publishers are not considering. #1) Young readers that are advanced. They want something that challenges them without the adult content. #2) Young reader books that look more advanced, but are still very easy and appropriate for the child. That's the problem I ran into when trying to find books for this 10 year old. She wants to read advanced young adult books that are thick because it looks cool to her and her friends. However, she's not an advanced reader. She has trouble getting through some books. It was a big problem. lol.


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