It’s not uncommon to see a 30-something with a copy of Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, or, more recently, teenage-romance-novel-turned-film The Fault in Our Stars in their hands, an editorial in the National Post laments. Young Adult fiction, or YA, is purchased mostly by people over 18, apparently. (One commenter jabs that this probably includes predominantly females, but I don’t know – 20-something males and comic books, anyone?)
Why are adults fanatically reading novels intended for children? Is this another symptom of prolonged adolescence? Of a dumbing down of our culture? A decline of the classics? A decline in literacy? I don’t know that I buy the first reason, because I’ve heard even mothers in their forties accompanied their daughters to see Twilight in theatres. I think there is something exceptionally titillating about the idealistic, swoon-inducing romance of both the teenage and harlequin variety, but that doesn’t explain Harry Potter. Or comic books.
There’s nothing wrong, of course, with reading an occasional YA novel, as Graham from the Post points out. I read the first Twilight book in German to practice the language (it’s right at my level – which doesn’t say much for my German!). The concern arises when adults are reading nothing else and thus missing out on the classics – or at least contemporary adult literature (which I am not especially a fan of).
Graham also asks another important question. Why are so many young adults reading Young Adult fiction? Isn’t it more exciting to peep into a so-called “grown-up” book? Why does YA even exist as a genre? When I was twelve years old I read Pride and Prejudice for the first time, and after that awakening into the world of the classics I wanted little to do with YA fiction. It all paled in comparison to the knowledge of the world bound up in an “adult” novel. We all desire to grow up, don’t we?
Did you read YA growing up? How important do you think classics and adult fiction is in shaping the minds of young people? Do you think middle- and high-school-aged children should read popular YA for novel studies in school, as is commonly the case? Why do you think adults choose to read YA regularly? Leave your thoughts below.