As I’m writing this post, I’ve just come out of #TitleTalk on Twitter. This chat was only the second one I’ve attended, and it was a whirlwind adventure! While not all of the participants of #TitleTalk work with young adults, many of them do, and the talk about YA literature was fevered and vehement. People don’t just like YA fiction; they LOVE YA fiction.
The reasons for a reader’s devotion to YA fiction are varied and can be quite personal. I chatted recently with a few YA devotees and discovered that, for the most part, the characters are the main reason to keep reading. My friend, Jessica told me, “I… love being thrown back into my youth. [The stories] bring back memories of a time of uncertainty and exploration of the world. I can relate with the characters and I find that each character teaches me a lesson about my past or even myself as an adult.”
Writer Jenny Moss also feels deeply drawn to YA books. “Most of it for me is emotional resonance – YA books find that sharp, deep emotional place that our younger selves are so much in touch with.” I think many of us who connect with YA books do so because we’ve always been book-crazed in general. If we began our early reading lives finding the things in stories that mean something to us, we’re going to attach ourselves to the fiction of our teen years because we’re seeking some kind of affirmation that we are not alone in the way we feel, think, or act. Or sometimes we just want to escape our own world and live vicariously through another character whose fictional life is so different from our own as to be unattainable. It’s a safe, drug-free (although addictive) form of escapism!
One genre of YA fiction that has the most fervent followers is fantasy. My fantasy-loving students are easily the largest segment of my readers. Stacey O’Neale recognizes that YA fantasy fiction has a huge following, so she has created the YAFantasy Guide, where she brings numerous fantasy resources under one site. Stacey appreciates YA fiction as a reader and a writer. She states, “I love romance and most YA is chock-full of it. There’s something special in that first love that draws me in. I also enjoy watching characters evolve as they move toward adulthood and their lives become gradually complicated. As a writer, it gives you a large pallet to paint with.”
Although all of us read adult books from time to time, high school English teacher Cindy Minnich says, “I love YA fiction because the
storylines are every bit as good as the ones written for adults. And I have tons of S[tudents]s to discuss them with!”And for those of us who do work with teens, sharing book recommendations and talking about what we read is what it’s all about.
Why do you love YA fiction? With what characters do you connect the most and why. How do you share this love of YA fiction with others? I’d love to hear your comments.