For decades, adults have enjoyed books intended for teenagers and adolescents. But during this year’s leisurely summer reading season, the adult inclination toward young adult (YA) lit became a hotly debated topic.
Ruth Graham sparked a fury with her article in Slate claiming adults should be embarrassed to read juvenile fiction. A New York Times article by A.O. Scott touched on Graham’s arguments as it explored the death of adulthood in American culture. If Scott is to be believed, there is a connection between the death of cultural adulthood and the rising love of YA by adults. He argues our literature choices indicate our culture's increasingly infantilization. Or to quote my mother, “Most people just operate on the level of a teenager.”
But is this a fair generalization? Can something else besides our immaturity explain why some of us (Christian adults, in particular) love this genre?
YA books are generally geared toward children ages 12 and older. Teen books, often lumped in with YA, are usually aimed at readers 14 and older. Many in this age range like to “read up;” preteens in particular are fascinated by the lives of young adults a few years older than they are.
People assume that those of us on the other end of the spectrum—who love reading about protagonists who are younger than we are—like to “read down.” But rather than an indication of intellectual or emotional immaturity, perhaps it is something else that attracts some of us who are Christian adults to this genre.
Through the 1980s, the YA genre was much smaller. Growing up, I was fed on classical literature that would likely be considered YA today: Little Women, The Lion, the Witch ...1
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