The Latest YA/Adult Lit Debate

It happens whenever there’s a YA/children’s book bestseller or movie adaptation: someone writes an article about whether or not YA/children’s books are worth reading if you’re over the age of 17. The New York Times features just such a discussion over at their Room for Debate.

YA Patricia McCormick holds down the fort for YA. She argues:

“…adults are discovering one of publishing’s best-kept secrets: that young adult authors are doing some of the most daring work out there. Authors who write for young adults are taking creative risks — with narrative structure, voice and social commentary — that you just don’t see as often in the more rarefied world of adult fiction.”

Obviously I very much agree. It’s a wonderful time for YA, when authors are allowed to push boundaries, and readers are enthusiastic about these risks. Teens already seek out innovation in technology, music, and other fields. Why should it surprise anyone that this happens for literature?

Columnist Joel Stein argues that adults should be embarrassed for enjoying anything that a young person might appreciate. But I find it hard to listen to an argument by anyone who claims that he can’t appreciate Pixar films–has he seen the heartbreaking depiction of love and married life in Up?–and hasn’t even read a YA novel. I’m sure he doesn’t appreciate or understand these novels, but I also think he wrote the article to be controversial and get hits. As such, I’m even more inclined to ignore him.

Lots of other articles included as well, most of them in favor of adults expanding their bookshelves with YA novels. In short: just as with adult literature, there is a lot of good and a lot of bad and a lot in the middle. But you shouldn’t cancel out a whole genre simply because you assume it’s beneath you.

(HT: Chronicles of a Mountain Librarian)

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