Last time around, YOU were asked if you thought there was a space for picture books available only in electronic format. I noted a few pros and cons of electronic picture books and YOU weighed in. The results are in the table below.
As is evident from the percentages below, some folks felt strongly that there was either absolutely no place for picture books in electronic format or they felt that this was the future. However, the vast majority of those who voted (n = 25) indicated that they are equally comfortable with both print copies and electronic copies.
Kid Lit Question of the Day: What is a “Young Adult” Anyways?
This particular question has been on my mind for some time now. When I first saw the terminology “Young Adult“, I thought to myself, “Oh, that’s like my nephews’ ages: 18 to 25; because, they are NEW ADULTS.” According to the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) of the American Library Association, a “Young Adult” is someone between the ages of 12 and 18! WHAT?! That’s not even an ADULT at all!
When I examined books that fall under this category, I come across books like The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, Divergent by Veronica Roth, The Giver by Lois Lowry, and City of Bones by Cassandra Clare. Clearly, I could go on and on, but these are just some of the titles I’ve read myself. Upon reading these books, a few things became evident.
First, the title characters are almost always adolescents (or younger in the case of The Giver where Jonas turns 12). So, for example, Katniss from The Hunger Games is 16 when first introduced; Bella from Twilight is 17; Tris from Divergent is 16; Clary from City of Bones is 16. Ok, all these characters are not adults, right?
Second, there are definitely some adult THEMES in these books and many of these themes (e.g., social inequities in The Hunger Games) I would think are very complex and will likely only be thoroughly understood by adults (or maybe older adolescents). And, let me emphasize: PEOPLE DIE IN THESE BOOKS. Not nice, yes-people-do-sometimes-die-in-normal-ways-like-accidents-and-illness, ways like in Little Women. They die BRUTALLY and these young characters are brutal TO EACH OTHER. I know, I know, I read Lord of the Flies too, but somehow adding werewolves, vampires, and other “monsters” to the mix just makes it that much darker.
I found it very interesting when the Twilight and The Hunger Games movies came out in the last few years and all the 10 year-old girls in our school were rushing to read the books before the movie came out – which, of course, they all went to see in the theatre. Well, those are choices that parents make on behalf of their children and it is not by any means my place to judge those decisions. I make decisions for my children based on my knowledge of them. Period.
However, what is interesting to me is that these movies are based on books that fall under the category of “Young Adult”. Does this mean that those children are now considered “Young Adults” (she asks facetiously)? What are the implications of such terminology? We all know that kids like to feel “grown-up”. Am I the only parent who wants to keep them young and innocent? Are we educating our children or are we de-sensitizing them?
Back to the term “Young Adult”… Here’s my theory: Young Adult/YA as a category is appealing to the publishing world because it casts a wider net. Raise your hand if you are an adult and you would be climbing over people to grab the latest Teen Lit or Juvenile Fiction bestseller. Yah, me neither. But that’s just it, adults read YA books and children as young as 10 will read them as well. That sounds like a pretty wide market, doesn’t it? In fact, when you look at who is buying YA books, 55% are over the age of 18. Hmmm…do you see what’s happening here?
So, what’s the problem then? In order for a book to appeal to adults, the themes need to appeal to adults. The result is that young children (part of the target audience) are reading themes that, I feel, are theoretically “too adult”. Take a look at the YA book cover to the right. Really?!
Time for YOU to weigh in with YOUR THOUGHTS.
What do YOU Think?
Now, we get to the fun part. YOU can weigh in on the issue by taking part in our poll and then you are welcome to leave a comment below telling us what YOU think.