Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Why I Read YA & Who You Calling Old?

I can NOT tell you how many times I've been asked, "Why do you read YA and aren't you too old?" in the past year so lemme clear a few things up. (I'm only speaking for myself here)

1) For the record, there is STILL a "3" in my age and there will be for a "few" more years. *steps off soapbox*

2) YA is NOT a reading level. (It's not like the Bob Books my kids learned to read with, where they start with sight words and then get progressively harder.  *sighs*

3) Isn't YA all about vampires and werewolves? Um, No. While there are some books that have the bloodsuckers and furballs, YA goes through trends. There are so.many.other stories with butt-kicking warriors, time travelers, aliens, space explorers, faeries, angels - you name it.  There are ALSO some great contemporary stories because YA has something for ALL THE PEOPLES!  *does cartwheels*

4) As a Christian, should you really be reading all that fantasy stuff?  Wouldn't a better choice be to stick with "Christian" books?  Doesn't the Bible warn about that kind of *junk*?  Whoa...stop, drop & roll, or at least take a breathe...  I'll *try* to answer this in several parts.  I say *try* because this question always feels like a no win situation but here goes...

God gave us an imagination for a reason and it's a shame not to use it.  I have found that a lot of the fantasy in YA and MG stories are allegories for the age old battle between good vs. evil. (Not all, but many are)  C.S. Lewis did this with his "Chronicles of Narnia" series and Tolkien's "Lord of The Rings" is another example.  (That one in particular isn't really just about a bunch of short dudes with hairy feet, holding hands and playing with a pretty gold ring is it?)

Granted, there is some dark stuff out there and yeah, we definitely should steer clear of that but that's where discernment comes in.  Being able to tell the difference between right and wrong, darkness and light is important and if you shelter yourself or your kids too much then you limit your ability to develop discernment. (This may seem ironic coming from a homeschool Mom but it's not.)

*steps back up on soap box*  My biggest pet peeve is people who RAVE about Harry Potter but slam ALL THE OTHER NON HP THINGS. I don't get it. I really don't and I didn't even read HP. (see #10)  *steps down again*

I think the word, "Christian" should be a verb - as in Christ follower; doing the work of Jesus; loving and serving people. NOT an adjective used to describe a book, music or a type of person. 

As believers, we're not supposed to judge or argue with one another and basically, what might bother one person, may not bother another. (Romans 14 explains this better than I can and it's worth checking out.)

For me, the genre of Christian fiction has been lacking save for Jenny B. Jones ("There You'll Find Me" and Krista McGee ("First Date") both of whose books are AWESOME!  Jenny also writes "growed up" books too, like "Save The Date" and you can visit her at

BTW, there are quite a few YA authors who write books with interesting characters, some fantasy, some not, that are just plain FUN to read and who also have a ticket to ride the "J-train" but are represented by traditional publishing houses. 
5) Do I really want my kid reading "Insert Title of Book EVERYONE ON THE PLANET is Reading?"  I don't know, but that's one of the reasons I began reviewing books, so my friends and fellow parents would have an idea of what's in it.  When do a review, I try to point out anything that might be seen as a negative, like excessive violence, colorful language (f-bombs & such) or sexy parts. (kissing doesn't qualify as "sexy" IMHO)  You can read my review and then decide for yourself if you or your kid should read it. 

6) Do you ever stop reading a book because of the content?  YEP!  There are plenty of books I've chosen to set aside because I didn't care for the topic, the characters, or it was so boring I thought it was gonna make ma eyeballs bleed. 0_o

7) Do you agree that boys in books are better? Hmm, well, I DO *hearts* my book boys SO HARD, BUT they're not real. *cries*  And while it IS nice to spend time with them, real live boys are always better kissers. ;) 

8) Do you only read YA?  Nope, I read "growed up" books too when I need a break from the teen angst and love triangles.  

9) What do YA & MG stand for?  YA = Young Adult, MG = Middle Grade. (Don't feel bad, I only just this about a year ago.  I'm still a newbie.  Yet another reason not to call me "OLD")

10) Will you ever read "Harry Potter"? Probably not because it has owls and I don't "do" owls. :P


  1. wow, GREAT post Jen!!!! Very good points, i also did not read harry potter :) i have to use some of these points if i ever have this conversation, YA not being a reading level is brilliant!

    i think it's great to read YA to relate to what the teens are into as well as the good books it offers, but loved the way you expressed it :) thanks for putting this up, well done. you are NOT the only adult who enjoys YA and that's a blessing.

  2. Thanks Kara! I really do enjoy reading YA & often find it's a nice escape from the land of Adultville sometimes. ;D

  3. Great post, Jen! Very well said. And don't feel bad about the YA/MG thing -- most people still don't even know what constitutes as a young adult novel. I read today on FB something like, "why would Hunger Games be suitable for middle school kids?" and I had to point out that HG is a young adult novel (high school) not a middle grade novel (middle school). A think most negative judgement always stems from a lack of knowledge. Keep that in mind. :)

    I think you'd love Harry Potter, actually. And the owls aren't a big part of the books or the films. I think you could do it!

  4. Thanks MG! Maybe I'll give HP a try...maybe. ;P