The One Reason Adults Should Read Young Adult Fiction
While doing some blog related research over the weekend, I came across this 2014 article from Slate magazine which is adamantly, angrily opposed to the idea of adults reading what is considered Young Adult fiction. I’d go so far as to say the article is downright hostile toward those who read the genre past their teen years. I found the subtitle particularly off putting “Read whatever you want. But you should feel embarrassed when what you’re reading was written for children.” Ouch.
I may be four years late, but this article got me fired up! So I went in search of some response and found many, very few of which agree with the original piece.
What I found most interesting in my findings on the subject, are the facts on adult literacy in the US. According to the National Center for Education Statistics 2012/2014 PIACC US Household studies, only 13% of adults in the US (ages 16-65) read a the highest proficiency level. 18% read at the lowest level. This means everyone else falls in between. I also found many references to the average American adult reading at 7-8th grade level.
So maybe this explains why sales of YA fiction continue to increase each year, while general adult fiction remains the same or decreases. In fact, this article says the number of Young Adult titles published more than doubled in the decade between 2002 and 2012 (over 10,000 YA books came out in 2012 versus about 4,700 in 2002) Or maybe it’s a coincidence.
Want to know my theory for why so many adults are choosing YA titles? Because they’re really freaking good.
“As far as I can tell, a young adult novel is a regular novel that people actually read.”
― Stephen Colbert
I can’t say Young Adult fiction is my favorite genre, and I don’t necessarily seek it out. However I’ve been known to get sucked into a YA Series, and I’ll read anything that comes highly recommended by a friend.
That being said, I have a couple friends who read mostly YA so I read it from time to time as well. I’m more drawn to what a book is about than what genre it belongs to or even who it’s intended audience is.
While perusing the web, I found plenty of articles in defense of adults reading YA and giving reasons why they should. They’re valid reasons, such as the fact that coming of age stories are universal and then some that are more of a stretch like the fact that YA novels are often shorter and cost less than adult fiction. I can’t say I’ve found those to be true across the board.
And so, based on all of my reading experience, I’ll give you:
The One Reason Adults Should Read YA Fiction
- Because they want to.
In 2015, 28% of Americans didn’t read a single book, and the average number of books finished was 5 for the entire year. If people want to read, who gives a damn what it is?!
And here’s another staggering statistic: 32 million Americans adults cannot read. Literacy rates have remained fairly steady over the past decade.
That information is so disheartening, I don’t even know what else to say about it. The American Library Association works hard advocating for literacy programs, providing support to libraries.
So what are your thoughts?
I’m curious to know if your opinion about adults reading YA books changed over the course of this post?