For many years children’s books have been seen as something less than adult literature. Then along came Harry Potter and suddenly reading children’s literature became cool.
Recently I read a post on why we suddenly love young adult literature in The Atlantic. They suggest it is because we are all children at heart and so we can identify with children’s literature. We came of age, so we like coming of age books. They also suggest it is because we like the escapism of young adult books. But having now been blogging and talking to children and their parents about books for over two years I have a different theory.
Adults who read love reading. They will look forward to a new book and to the down time they get when they are reading. Many children are not natural readers. Most are still developing reading skills, and many children take a lot of effort to even get started on a book. If this were not so then I and others would not have written so much on how to get children to read.
Just think about it. When I was growing up we had a couple of hours of children’s tv a day, maybe a movie in the holidays and outside play to keep us from reading. Children today have so much more to keep them entertained outside of books. They have music, sports and dance and other after school activities. They have great movies to watch, many of which actually come from great books, and they have computer games on numerous devices.
So while writers of adult literature have a captive and active audience, those who write books for children and young adults have to work really hard to even get a child to pick up the book they have written. To keep children engaged they need to be able to create characters and and plot lines that are engaging but do not use too many words. They need to be fast paced and well written.
As an adult who loves reading I do really enjoy adult fiction and a story that is developed slowly and a plot that has many strands. But I am a working mum and I am taxi for after school activities as well as running a house. When I get to read at the end of the day I am often too tired to read those types of books, and I have to say Young Adult fiction is often my go to read because I can read quality fiction without too much effort. I save the grown up books for days when I have more energy and want to indulge myself.
So when you are looking for books for your young adults to read why not test run some yourself? It will almost be like when you used to read to them. You can have a conversation with your children about what you liked or disliked about the book and who their favourite character was, and it may just get them interested in reading again.