Have you noticed how many of your friends have been reading those wildly popular young adult book series? Harry Potter is probably the most notable series aimed at young adults that basically took over the world. Other current popular series are the “Twilight” series by Stephanie Meyer and Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games (over half of her ‘fans’ on Facebook are fully bloomed adults).
Adults reading literature aimed at young adults is not new. Most of us have read and still enjoy the young adult authors such as Mark Twain, Lewis Carroll, J.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis to name a few. It wasn’t until the 1920s that literature for young adults became a separate category. We are all looking for a powerful, engaging story. We want to finish the book reluctantly and spend the next few days thinking about it. It may be literature written for short people but it’s still literature.
Young adult fiction is often about transformation, identity, sexuality, alternative worlds, and weighty universal issues like love, loss, grief, war, and change. Maybe I’ve never grown up, but I love these books aimed at teenagers. I find the approach to these issues very real, but softer and not quite so brutal. The stories are fresh, fast-moving, absorbing and I hate to put them down.
The author of The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin, started a Kidlit book group in 2006 under the cover of darkness until she discovered that she was not the only adult who loved young adult literature. Kidlit has now expanded to three groups, meeting every six weeks. They alternate between classic and modern works.
In addition to those mentioned above, here are some books written for teens that we’ve either read ourselves or had highly recommended:
- The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
- What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell
- Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
- The Lost Conspiracy by Frances Hardinge
- The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
- The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney
- Adios Nirvana by Conrad Wesselhoeft
- Any of Thomas A. Barron’s Merlin Series
- Shabanu by Suzanne Fisher Staples
In C. S. Lewis’s brilliant essay, On Three Ways of Writing for Children, he says, “When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.”