Thursday, June 15, 2017

Arguments For and Against Young Adult, and Why We Should Still Be Reading Kids Books

I love rain. Isn't it beautiful? It definitely cooled off the 90-something temps we had last week. It's probably not a good sign that I'm already hating hot weather. In early June. 

From Goodreads

But I do love summer. I love reading in the summer. Or listening to audio books. My latest completion is Talon by Julie Kagawa. As far as YA books go, she is one of my favorite authors. Her books have strong characters and feel true to life (you know, besides the girl being able to turn into a dragon). You can read my full review of Talon on Goodreads

A few months ago my class was assigned to read an article that blasted adults for reading YA. While reading it, I was all for everything Ruth Graham said, from calling Twilight trashy to encouraging adults to read grown-up books. After a rousing class discussion, however, I'm not entirely on board with her. 

From Goodreads

I don't think anyone should neatly tuck YA away in one category. Granted, after feeling like I did need to grow up a little in my reading, I don't necessarily want to put away childish books either. As Graham herself says, "It's just that today, I am a different reader" (1). Because I am a different reader today, going back and reading books like The Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe and Wait 'Till Helen Comes are a completely different experience now than they were when I was a kid. Better. I love The Chronicles of Narnia more now than I did when I was a kid. I see my own life in those books, my own experiences come to life in the form of fantasy. As an adult, I've also picked up The Screwtape Letters, a deeply philosophical novel presenting a series of letters from Screwtape, a servant of the devil, to his apprentice, Wormwood. Having this book is an additional insight into C.S. Lewis' writing style as well as his reasoning. He also wrote a fantastic essay; "Learning in War-Time." 


That's not to say I don't allow myself some fun. I do! My guilty indulgences include Julie Kagawa, Kimberly Loth, and Kiersten White. But I also believe many of their books have value, that they have some kind of moral message behind them. If you're wondering - or even asking aloud - how I select books to read, it's simple. If I pick up a book, start reading it, and feel icky, I put it down. You get it, right? Have you ever started reading something and felt "icky" about it? Or have you read something that feels subliminally dark or erotic that goes too far? I've picked up several of those books. But I put them down. Think about it. You have a limited amount of time here on earth. If you love to read, what books are you going to spend your time reading? Because there are millions to choose from. 


I also try to broaden my horizons. Let me show you an example of my recent reading list: 
Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo
Talon, by Julie Kagawa
Mansfield Park, by Jane Austen
The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis
God of the Sun, by Kimberly Loth
Earthbound, by Aprilynne Pike (just started this, so no judging if it turns out to be bad)
White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America, by Nancy Isenberg
Homebody, by Orson Scott Card

I feel that, for the past few months, this is a pretty well-rounded reading list. I understand that some people only like to read one or two genres. And you know what? That's okay. Do you love sci-fi? Go back and re-read Wrinkle in Time. There is some great stuff in there. Read it to your kids, if that makes you feel better. If you don't want to re-read it, you don't have to. In fact, there are very few books I actually do go back and re-read in life. What I'd like to do is make these two points: 

Pietro Magni's The Reading Girl

1. You can and should read to elevate yourself, to be more educated, and to push the limits of your thinking. 
2. You can and should read for fun, to escape a harsh reality, to unwittingly learn that truth is often more upfront in fiction than it is in real life. 

Until next time, Happy Reading! And enjoy! 

Works Cited
Graham, Ruth. "Yes, Adults Should Be Embarrassed to Read Young Adult Books." Slate Magazine. Washington Post Company's John Alderman, 05 June 2014. Web. 15 June 2017.