The reason I have written this post tonight is because I was inspired by Kristen McLean at Pixie Stix Kids Pix http://pixiestixkidspix.wordpress.com/2010/03/23/obvious-watch-preparing-kids-for-the-digital-future-with-great-books/ to think about the importance of a child’s progressive reading experiences as they grow into adulthood.
In the last few years there has been an increase in the demand for ‘young adult’ fiction aka teen fiction as publishers try to fill the gap between childhood reading and adult reading. I remember always having trouble finding books for myself around the age of 14; I wasn’t ready for the content of adult fiction and the younger stuff felt immature and did not challenge me. In the end I ended up reading R.L.Stine and the Sweet Valley High/College stories which left me a little…empty.
Nowadays the teen fiction/young adult range is so diverse it even has its own sub genre in Waterstones known as Dark Fantasy where the Stephenie Meyer and Charlaine Harris books end up. But with diversity comes confusion as the young adult section caters for any age from 13 up to 16 and to me, that’s quite a difference.
I believe the demands and expectations of each age need to be recognised as what might be suitable for a 16 year old most certainly will not be suitable for a 13 year old. This is something many parents admit to worrying about in finding books for their children because if they haven’t read the book, they can’t know for sure if the content is suitable for their child throughout. Even staple authors like the wonderful Jacqueline Wilson have come into question for their books. Wilson’s ‘Girls out Late’ series has come under the most scrutiny as the two protagonists deal with dangerous situations and…boys! But I truly believe this is all part of the learning experience as we look to books for integrity and social commentary.
Reading with your child should not end with picture books. That’s not to say you should read to your teenager at bedtime rather, it is integral that you know what your child is reading and take a healthy interest in their choices and give them suggestions and new books that will challenge their learning and give them a more diverse reading experience.
There are some great reading guides available in bookshops and even online. I even have a few recommended official sites on my blogroll. Utilise the booksellers who want to share their passion and information with you.
The young adult genre has a range of wonderful series from Anthony Horowitz to Meg Cabot and even Stephenie Meyer. It’s great when a child finds a book they love and can continue with the same author in the same way they may have done during the 5-8 period with Beast Quest and Princess Fairies.
We can have some fun finding new books for children and what’s great about adult fiction is, you might even find something you like for yourself too. Use what you know, remember your childhood favourites and go from there.
Whilst there’s no point reviewing well known books in which my bookseller opinion will have no impact at all. Instead in my next post, I will recommend my two favourite standalone books which I think are truly wonderful and worthy of your attention.