Have you ever wondered why we have such a thing as Young Adult (YA) literature? Like where did it come from and why is it such a big deal now?
Let me start by saying this.
Teenage years are those awkward years. You know… the time where you have no idea who you are or why you have 12 zits on your forehead. Girls are mean and boys are dumb. You all know what i’m talking about right? This is an experience we all go through.
How did you cope with the changes you went through during these years? How did you handle finding “your place”? When you made mistakes who did you relate to or run to for help? What was your saving grace?
My Saving Grace
Books. Books. Books.
This was my ultimate saving grace from the teenage world I was living in. When I was in a bad mood I’d open a book. When I needed boy help I’d open up a book and read (not that I really learned anything from those fairy tales but it always made me feel slightly better). When I needed a friend, the characters in my books were my friends. And when I needed to get away, there was always an adventure inside a book!
And each book I picked up, I could relate to. The reason I could relate so well, is because it was written directed towards me, or towards teenager (young adults) like me. These books were written to help us grow as young adult readers and provide us with real life experiences that we possibly were going through ourselves. We connected so strongly to the characters because we almost felt like they were us somehow.
It makes me sad… and a little bit mad when I hear people that criticize young adult novels without also discussing the role that the story lines play for the reader. Sure they may not be everyone’s cup of tea or someone else may think they are all the same, but they help teenagers whether people notice that or not. And that’s what’s important.
I read an article today by Shannon Hale that discusses this very thing. She states:
“And let’s not send the message to teens that the books they love and the stories that resonate with them have no value or worth. They get that enough from some adults about their very beings.”
Let kids live! Let them experience the new golden age of young adult literature. Let them read the crazy, weird, dystopian novels! Who cares what they’re reading (as long as it’s appropriate) if it’s what interests them! No kid needs to grow up too soon. Asking them to dive into Adult literature is like asking them to forget about a great time to be a teenager and explore who they are as human beings. That’s what Young Adult Literature is all about, giving them that opportunity to explore and expand their horizons.
For me, I would say that I am an expertise when it comes to contemporary realistic fiction or dystopian fiction! I’m not as familiar with the fantasy or supernatural literature genres. But the cool thing is, is that other people like those genres! Everyone is free to like what they can relate to and what ultimately drives out that emotional feeling.
Also, I’m excited for this semester because I get the opportunity to expand my own horizons and dig deeper into those genres I don’t feel as comfortable with. I want to set a goal to read novels that I wouldn’t normally read. In addition to that, I would like to explore those novels that have been given awards. In doing all of these things, I am hopeful that my knowledge in Young Adult literature will grow greater than any of my expectations.
The new golden age is upon us. And that simply means that more kids are reading Young Adult literature than before. More authors see the value and potential that young adult literature has. And that my friends is pretty cool if you ask me.
But then there are people like myself who are no longer in their teens but keep revisiting these novels. Why? Because they’re still relatable! They still have meaning and value to a lot of us, not simply because they were once our saving grace, but because they still offer us with some type of relatable emotion.
Check out the latest list of 2016’s best young adult novels!
Happy reading, friends!