Yoooooooo! So I never knew this. But Young Adult books…..well, let’s just say that I always thought that these were books for teenagers. Young men and women in the ages of maybe 11-17.
Boy, was I wrong.
I had never really ventured into the Young Adult section of the library. I read everything: sci-fi, fantasy, romance, adventure, crime, mystery, non-fiction, poetry….all kinds. I do not discriminate.
But I stayed away from the YA section of the library because I assumed it was full of kids books.
However, as I have recently had children of my own, and spent a lot more time in the children’s section of the library, I became curious about the YA section. After all, I had assumed that the Harry Potter books would be in the YA section. But they weren’t.
I had also assumed that the Lightning Thief books (and others by Rick Riordan) would be in there as well, as they are more challenging to read than the picture books and entry level chapter books.
So I ventured into the YA section one day, while the kids were sitting quietly listening to books at the local library story time. And I found the Twilight series, by Stephanie Meyer.
That placement made sense to me. It was a book written for young people in probably the high school age range, though it was read by women of all ages.
I read the jackets of a bunch of books, and was surprised to see a lot of stories that really interested me. Strong women (though young), going through adventures, learning about themselves, overcoming fears. The types of stories I like.
And then I realized just how broad and a mish mash the YA section of the library really is.
The YA section does contain books aimed at precocious young teens. But the same section also contains books aimed at older teens, or even young people in their early 20s.
Which means that books for an 11 year old are on the same shelf as books for a 21 year old.
This doesn’t bother me at all, personally. But as a parent, there’s no chance that I would like my young teen run wild in the YA section and just pull books off the shelf to take home without my review of them.
There is a ton of topics I think are pretty inappropriate for younger teens (such as depression, drinking, drug use, suicide, physical relations, running away from home, fire starting, and more). Some of the books read like adult romance novels, with all of the juicy details of a book you’d be more likely to see a grown woman reading next to the pool while on vacation.
I also thought that the YA section would have books for young men as well as women. And to some degree, this is true. But overall, the books in our library’s YA section on aimed at the audience of young women. The ratio of books with a young male protagonist paled in comparison to the books with a young female protagonist.
Now, this could be a reflection of the choices of the librarian, or the number of young men who actually come into the library seeking books to read. It could be that there just aren’t as many young male or older teen readers, who are more likely to be obsessed with sports, gaming, friends, or other pursuits at this age. Or the the boys who are reading at this age have jumped beyond YA books to adult books in their chosen genre.
Since discovering the YA section of the library, I have probably read maybe 50 books or more. I’ve discovered some new authors that I really like, whose books could easily sit on the shelf in the adult section of the library (and might get more attention).
I’ve started several books and then had to put them down, because I simply could not get into the head of the main character. I mean, really. I’m an almost 40 year old woman. It’s tough for me to really identify with a 15 year old who is obsessed with Instagram and whether or not her crush likes her backpack.
The thing that also bothers me about a lot of YA books is that the exciting events in the books are so contrived. I can’t remember the title of one of them, but in it, the main girl character dons a wig and some heels to enter a bar to question someone for information. She talks to the bartender who is completely fooled by the getup apparently.
I know in real life, that would NEVER happen. Like never. You’d have to be a master of disguise to not get spotted in a bar as a 15 year old in a bad wig, depending upon high heels to make you look older.
I’m just saying.
Not surprisingly, I am also bothered by the way young teens in books fall instantly in love with another character. I understand attraction at first sight, interest at first sight, but undying forever love after talking to someone briefly?
Give me a break.
There is also not a lot of supporting events or information connecting up the adventure. I get this….the pacing needs to be quick to keep the attention of young people, who don’t care to get bogged down by things like DETAILS.
But as an adult I struggle with the skips and the lack of set up.
Seriously. A girl who trained for three months is now a super spy and can whip grown men in a fight?
Anyway, the sum of all this is that the YA section of the library is a mish mash of books placed there by librarians and even publishing companies who don’t really even understand what the book is or who the audience of the book is.
As a parent, have a care when you let your child browse there, or browse with him/her. If you can, try reading the books ahead of your kid to make sure they are appropriate.
ALSO–just because book 1, 2, and 3 are appropriate, don’t assume that every book in the future of the series is as well. The Throne of Glass series by Sarah Maas (which I enjoyed) is like that. The first few books barely contain a single kiss, and then the last few books are full of more graphic descriptions that aren’t appropriate at all in my opinion for a younger reader.
If keeping this time of content out of your kids’ hands is important, then be sure to screen carefully and read everything before you give it to them.
As an adult reader looking for stuff to read, be prepared to take books off the shelf and start them….and then put them back if they don’t catch you. (This is why I love libraries….doesn’t cost me anything to abandon a book).
Have you ventured into the YA section of your library? What are your favorites? Let me know in the comments section, I’m always looking for good new stuff to read.
Read my digital journal for more about my life, my kids, and personal parenting struggles, located here: https://momadviceline.com/category/personal-parenting-journal-emilys-life/
Emily Anderson is a mother of three children, all under the age of 10. Located in the Pacific Northwest of the US, Emily is a mom and part-time blogger, jumping in front of the computer when the kids are sleeping. She started this blog in April of 2019 and is proud that the blog is now paying for itself. If you want to know about her journey as a blogger, check out out her personal digital journal or her post about failing her way to blogging success.