Monday, November 17, 2014

"All YA Readers are the Same."

We've heard it all before. There's a certain age for YA. Adults shouldn't read YA. All YA readers are girls. It goes on forever. Let's help some narrow-minded people out. 

Dear Narrow-Minded Reader or Journalist,

My name is Charli. I've been reading teen books since I was eight, and Young Adult literature since I was ten. I didn't even know it was YA then, it was just what my librarian said I could progress to. Some stuff I would skip over, some stuff I found too scary. And some stuff I absolutely adored, and have continued to do so for years.

Now, this is just one example of where YA is read by someone out of the man-made age range of YA. Adults are also mocked for reading YA, but why? It's all down to preference, really. When The Fault in Our Stars by John Green was a huge book earlier this year, no adults were slandered for reading or going to see the film of it. Was this just because it was a film? Because TFiOS is a YA book. There was a similar case for The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak.

Perhaps the reason for this is because both The Book Thief and The Fault in Our Stars handle tough topics and use a wide range of vocabulary and philosophy. But honestly, most YA books do. In fact, if you take any dystopian read (including another YA phenomenon, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins), it may seem like they are just a weird futuristic world, but they in fact have a huge message to the reader. And sometimes, this reader is of my generation; and this is a great thing because we can put ourselves into the position of these characters and imagine our future this way. We can look at what needs changing.

Many also seem to believe that all YA readers are all 14-18 year old girls. Both aspects of this are wrong. The age, as specified before, but also the gender. I attend a book club once a month. There are about 10 of us, perhaps? Some of us are my age, 13 and 14. Some are older, 17 and 18. Dani, who runs it, is in her twenties. And guess what..? One of our attendees happens to be a boy. He's one of the older ones; and he's into music and books and nerdiness just like the rest of us. He comes out with some incredibly insightful things, just like the rest of us, if not better. It's no different; I promise you. Another YA boy I can mention is one of the bloggers I know, Jack. He is another boy who comes out with some fantastically insightful things, some of which I could never think of myself.

And yes, maybe a high percentage of us are female teenagers. But we are not all the same. Some of us are adults. Some of us are males. Some of us are of other ethnicities and religions and cultures. Some of us aren't heterosexual. It's what makes our community so special; being different. It's what makes us appreciate our reading and what makes our books so diverse. So many people are afraid to talk about mental health and LGBT and racism in adult books; but that will never happen in YA.

So before you take judgement on our readers, and our community; take a moment. Read some of our loved stories, watch one of our adaptations (one of the good ones, don't go near some of them), look at our blogs, check out our twitter conversations. We are diverse, and we are proud.

Thank you,

Charli
14 year old YA reader and blogger.

5 comments:

  1. Lovely open letter that defies stereotypes. Good one!

    Amelia @ YA Bookologists (YA-bookologists.blogspoy.com)

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  2. There are no age boundaries at all – I have friends in their 30s, some coming up to being 40, who read and love YA. Even bosses at my previous jobs sometimes read YA, and they were older still (and one of them was male)!

    These are all excellent points, Charli :) And thank you very much for the mention!! (Very proud of our little book club!)

    Dani x
    Pen to Paper

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  3. I agree with you. I also hate the steryotypical, "you can't read this because you're too old," or, "that's not your age level of reading." Reading is a freedom that I adore, along with every other reader. Us, as bloggers, read cover so many different genres, and reading levels. It's like saying, "You're to old to read dystopian, but here's a romance book for you. Have fun!" I could go on forever, but I really enjoy your post and I can completely relate.
    - Cambrie @ and so the book begins (http://andsothebookbegins.blogspot.com/)

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  4. I think this is a fantastic post. I'm 22 and the majority of books I read are YA and my Mum loves The Hunger Games, TFIOS and Divergent. Just because YA books focus on teenagers doesn't mean that the books can only be read by teenagers.

    I'm pretty sure that I will be reading YA when I'm 60. I like to think that I'll be telling my grandkids about YA books they should read.

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  5. A million claps for this post. A post that should be required reading for everyone with a negative and/or narrow-minded opinion of the YA genre. Heck, let's make it required reading for everyone.

    Amaaazing and honest post, Charli!

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Charli and Tori