Why I Read YA

This week blog posts abound discussing why the writer reads the Young Adult genre when they are not, in fact, young adult.

The first reason I read YA is to catch-up with characters who help form who I am today.

I began reading at a young age, but as a child much of our books are dictated by what our caretakers buy. I was lucky in that my mom would buy me a book (or three) every time we went into a book store. She and my dad had different tastes, so I was exposed to a variety of subjects. I remember being read The Hobbit, and later I read Bambi’s Children in fourth grade. These were not children’s books, but they were good stories. The first time I distinctly remember picking up a book all on my own was at a school book fair. I was a tom-boy, and staring back at me from the cover of a paperback was Tamora Pierce’s redheaded (ahem), sword-wielding Alana.

I inhaled Song of the Lioness and the other series.That love affair has yet to cease. Now I am several years past “young adult,” but Tamora Pierce still writes. Am I supposed to stop reading her simply because I am now considered “New Adult?” Like hell.

Another (hopefully) obvious reason I read YA is because I think it’s stupid to like or dislike something soley due to its author or audience. This goes for music, movies, etc. Just because I may have a different set of worries from the main characters in those books does not mean I cannot appreciate their struggles or their solutions.

The third and deepest reason, I think, to read YA was more subconscious. I was thinking about what determines a YA book in the first place — it is not actually the age of the MC, but the content and voice of the book. YA books are directed to people who are learning who they are, learning about the world and how it really isn’t perfect, yet still beautiful. At least, I hope that’s the goal. I am still learning these things, and I hope I always will be.

Humans are constantly changing and evolving on an individual level — don’t we all need to read about someone doing that exact same thing? Just because I may be worried about finding a Real Job, and a character is worried about her finals or getting the girl does not mean I can’t relate. I remember telling my mom why fantasy and sci-fi could still be very powerful reads — the worlds may be different, but the human struggle is still there, even if it’s tossing magical fire balls or wearing a spacesuit.

Maybe that character will teach me something I would never have understood otherwise. That is why I will always read Young Adult.


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