Why Do Kids Read?

If you take a peek at my Goodreads profile, you’ll see that I’m currently reading Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. I don’t always read YA (Young Adult) books, but the ones I’ve read have widened my understanding of writing styles and techniques. Many people don’t read Young Adult books because…well, they’re written for teens (and sometimes preteens). That is the main demographic for YA novels. However, there is a wide disparity among the genre in terms of writing style, reading level, and audience. Some are so juvenile that I just pass them along to my thirteen-year-old daughter.

Stopping before I finish a book is unusual for me, though, and honestly, it’s happened more often outside the YA genre than within it (cough, cough the Sword of Truth series a.k.a. Richard and Kahlan, forever and ever…ad nauseam). Not finishing often feels like giving up, like quitting. It becomes a challenge, and I end up forcing myself to finish. Leaving a goal unfinished just feels like failure, even when I know I’m just wasting my time.

But I digress.

The fact that I find some novels in the Young Adult genre too juvenile for my tastes isn’t necessarily a reflection of the quality of the writing or the abilities of the author. I recently saw a review for a YA book on Amazon that was extremely critical. Now, I haven’t read the book in question, so I can’t comment on the majority of the review since it may or may not be accurate. However, the first comment they made about the book was a complaint that it was too childish and would only be acceptable for a middle school or junior high student. Well…yeah. One would assume that a book geared toward children somewhere between 13 and 17 (the YA age demographic) would be acceptable specifically for them. The comment really got under my skin even though I’m not a YA author, nor do I know the author in question. If the author is writing for preteens and/or teens, then they aren’t necessarily writing with adults’ tastes in mind. And that’s okay. They’re not supposed to. There’s a reason why the genre exists.

Kids are not into reading as much as they were in previous generations. As a teacher, I see the gritty reality of that statement every single day. When the vast majority of students continues to ask why we have to read anything in a Literature class, my heart bleeds.

Ink-colored blots.

My daughter loves YA books, as well as manga (anime graphic novels). Without these categories of literature, perhaps even the minority of young people who enjoy reading wouldn’t have that foothold into the world of their imagination. The next generation of dreamers is shaped by their experiences within the pages of a book. The experiences need to include elements to which they can relate. If they don’t have a connection to the story, and then the experience is lost.

If they are lost, so are we. We as a people, as a community, as a world.

What Do You Think? Let Us Know!