Why all adults should read young adult books

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: Young Adult Literature is NOT just for young adults!!!

In fact, I’d argue YA Lit is for everyone. I mean, “young” or not, we’re all adults here, right?

Young Adult Fiction, or Teen Fiction, is a completely underrated genre full of wonderful books that readers of all ages can enjoy. Often, adult readers (myself included, I’ll admit) avoid this genre because they look at it as a children’s genre, or something that’s tailored just to middle and high school-age readers—you know, people who are, after all, labeled “young adults”.

Guess what, though? That thought is totally a myth.

The truth is a young adult lit book is just labeled young adult lit because the main character is a young adult. That’s it—it’s all about the main character(s), not the reader population at all!

Authors of this genre don’t sit down to write YA and think, “Hm, what would a teenager today like to read? I think I will make this book appeal to the ages of 13-17 and only the ages of 13-17 because they’re teenagers!” And, as a writer of this genre myself, I can guarantee that doesn’t happen. In fact, authors of this genre think the opposite of that because, although 13-17 is a wonderful group of readers, it’s a very small group, and we want to get our books read by as many readers as possible.

So, the myth should be broken to you now—teen fiction is not just for teens, and authors don’t intend them to be, either!

And, now that we’ve gotten over that, you should know that there’s absolutely no shame or guilt in enjoying a good YA read as an adult—in fact, it should be praised! Because, by enjoying teen fiction, you also get to enjoy…

Some of the most talked-about books

Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, The Fault in Our Stars—have you heard of any of these lately?

I’d argue to say the majority of books we hear about, not just in the media, but also from our family and friends, especially the avid reader ones, are actually categorized as Young Adult. I’m actually kind of tired about hearing so much about the Divergent and Maze Runner series… like, everyone must really love these or something.

Now, if you have FOMO (fear of missing out) as much as I do, you’ll be left feeling really out of the loop if you don’t at least give these big-name novels a try. And, you know, after you finish the books that are most talked about right now, you can get a head-start on reading the ones on the rise (like any new release by Jenny Han or Rainbow Rowell)!

YA movie/TV adaptations

Since all the most talked-about books are teen fiction, it only makes sense that the most talked-about movie and television adaptations are also teen fiction!

There’s been a big trend of book-to-screen adaptations lately with the boom in streaming services, and I’m all here for it. One of my favorites is John Green’s Looking for Alaska book-to-series on Hulu—man, that was a tear-jerker. For something more light-hearted, though, check out Jerry Spinelli’s Stargirl out on Disney+ or the new Love, Simon series based on Becky Albertalli’s Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, also on Dinsey+.

More and more with these streaming channels, the book adaptations are considered more “small screen” adaptations, seeing how they’re not in major theaters. However, lots of “big screen” adaptations have already been made out of the books we’ve all heard of, like Beastly by Alex Flinn, I Love You Beth Cooper by Larry Doyle, If I Stay by Gayle Forman, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot, and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares—just to name a few. Maybe you’ve, like me, already seen some of these movies and not even known they were based on YA books!

I love connecting a book I just read to a film adaptation, or a film adaptation I just watched to a book I’m about to read, don’t you?

Connecting to your past

One more personal reason to pick up a teen fiction novel or series is because it can help us as adults connect to our inner child or inner adolescent. I know, that idea sounds super deep and can be a whole psychology course in itself, but at the base of it, it’s just getting us to feel young again!

I know a lot of people have mixed feelings about their high school years—some of us loathed every second of it while others loved every second of it. Whichever way you felt, though, you can think of picking up a teen fiction book like getting another chance at those high school years by experiencing them through the main character. Look at the main character’s world through her eyes and let yourself have an adventure with her!

And don’t fret if you absolute hate-hate-hated school and would never want to re-experience it in any fashion; not all young adult books are about school, and most are actually about life outside of school—think life with friends, family, and the main character’s self. A lot of these books focus on the main character’s growth as a person, just like all other good adult fiction books do. All fiction is similar in this way, and the only real difference here is that teens in teen fiction may think more like, well, a teen rather than an adult. So, while reading through the eyes of a teen, imagine yourself also thinking like a teen… and connect with your free-spirited inner young adult!

There you have it—a totally non-exhaustive list of the reasons you should try young adult lit as an adult! Because, remember, they’re not just for teens.

Did I convince you well enough? Ready to try out some new YA novels? Check these out here—they’re actually written by me, and I can tell you that I think they’re a great start into the genre for all adults!

Until our next YA-themed post… let me know what you think/thought of this one!

–Kari

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