Why Adults Are Reading Young Adult Fiction

My son, Andrew, is seven, but he is a very good little reader.  I may have mentioned before that in my despair at the amount of effort he was investing in reading about Pokemon, I put him on to Narnia.  Since that time, I asked on this site and others for books I should encourage him to read.  A number of people mentioned the books about Percy Jackson and the Olympians.  Andrew read The Lightning Thief and then The Sea of Monsters.

Naturally, Andrew began talking about the books and so I decided to read them just to make sure they were okay and to be able to carry on a conversation with him about this new world of imagination.  The Lightning Thief held my attention so well I found myself looking forward to lunchtime at work just so I could sit down with the book.  I am now working on The Sea of Monsters.

I have been thinking about how much I have enjoyed these books.  Consider the number of adults who read things like Percy Jackson or Harry Potter or Twilight.  Why do so many adults like to read young adult fiction?  I think I have the answer.  I think we like to read it because it has limits.  Young adult fiction has be judicious in the amount of sex and violence it contains.  The descriptions can’t be quite as graphic or gratuitous.  That means in order for a story to be successful, it really has to be good.  A story has to have merit instead of relying on titillation of one kind or the other to succeed.

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4 thoughts on “Why Adults Are Reading Young Adult Fiction

  1. I would suggest that probably the main reason that adults read teen fiction is because they have grown up in a sound-bite “culture” which has quite literally dumbed down what now passes for USA culture (including most of what is called religion).

    They are thus incapable of exercising the necessary skills to follow sophisticated ideas, particularly ideas which are both open ended and paradoxical. And which therefore provide no fixed answers to the over-whelming complexities of life in the 21st Century.

    But then again how many people in the USA still actually read serious challenging books? Or books full stop!

    • It is also possible, John, that, like the post said, the stories are just plain good. I am a postgraduate student who spends about 99% of my time reading “sophisticated” books by people who, quite honestly, get paid far too much money for writing books with too many words that actually communicate very little. I sincerely enjoy sitting down at night after reading about ideas that are “open ended and paradoxical” and enjoying a genuinely simple and well-told story. Not everything we read has to be heady and ground-breaking. Sometimes a simple, well-told story is good for us.

  2. OH HOLY COW!!!! finally someone says out loud what i’ve been saying behind my hand for years. i started by looking for books for my son (all i knew were girl books) with the newbery award winners. i also found out that the history fiction for youth was much more informative and much less hell-bent on gossiping about exploits of the time or the person without being dumbed down. then of course came harry potter and a couple of other popular series. after i’d exhausted those i started ‘grab bagging’. just picking audio books or regular ones up off the library shelves because they looked interesting. in fact my list became so large i joined facebook just so some other ‘closeted’ youth readers would have some titles to look for. the down side to all of this is that we have picked up on several series at the very beginning which can be quite traumatic. for example brisinger was published decades ago and we’d like to finish the story! or the nicholas flamel series by michael scott….one a year! are you kidding me! we found the first one the alchemist right after it came out….so it’s been one long year after another. come may 24th for about two weeks while my kids and i fight over who gets to read it the stress will be relieved….but then it’ll be back to aaaauuuuggghhhhh…when is may?!?

    so thank you for words. for all of the people that love well written stories youth books are absolutely worth the time. and for all who think reading youth books means that there is something immature about our taste i’m currently reading dante’s comedy, gilgamesh and ‘the rise of the house of mcnally’ by philip ardaugh….and loving them all for their brilliance in written form.

  3. I think it’s rare to find a true “grown up”. People always comment about how high school is never over and no matter how old you are, there are those moments when people just feel like a kid again. YA touches that part of adults. Young Adult fiction is free to be raw emotionally, and most of the heroes will spill their inner most thoughts to the reader. It is refreshing to hear, no matter how embarrassingly awkward the thoughts are! Check out some of my reviews of modern YA lit! I share some of your insight. http://lindseysthoughts.wordpress.com/

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