Kids Books: Not Just for Kids

In preparation for the publication (tomorrow!) of Mockingjay–the last, highly anticipated installment in Suzanne Collins Hunger Games Trilogy–I thought I’d draw your attention to an article in The New York Times entitled “The Kids’ Books Are Alright.” This article picks up on a discussion that’s been batted around by many over the last few years, one concerning the fact that adults are progressively buying and reading a greater and greater amount of books published for and marketed towards Young Adults. Check out these statistics:

“According to surveys by the Codex Group, a consultant to the publishing industry, 47 percent of 18- to 24-year-old women and 24 percent of same-aged men say most of the books they buy are classified as young adult. The percentage of female Y.A. fans between the ages of 25 and 44 has nearly doubled in the past four years. Today, nearly one in five 35- to 44-year-olds say they most frequently buy Y.A. books. For themselves.”

The author, Pamela Paul, doesn’t try to decipher, as many have tried before, whether it’s “okay” that adults are reading ‘kid’s books’ more avidly–which actually, I appreciate. She does, however, talk to a lot of literary-minded people and publishing types who are enthusiastic fans of young adult lit and try to explain the draw. The genre’s attention to emotion, its timeless themes of self-discovery and maturation, and its focus on plot are all suggested as being particular draws, along with Paul’s notion that “Y.A. may also pierce the jadedness and cynicism of our adult selves.”

Whatever the appeal, I’m looking forward to picking up Mockingjay tomorrow and ferreting it home with me to read, in one setting, on my couch after work. If you will be doing the same, let me know what you think! I haven’t been this excited about a series since Harry Potter.


2 thoughts on “Kids Books: Not Just for Kids

  1. This is something I’ve thought about a lot lately, and I think it partly has to do with the fact that there is now a widely used marketing category of “young adult” fiction. If such a category had been used in the past, many classics of literature would qualify. Aren’t classic coming of age stories like Catcher in the Rye, Oliver Twist, maybe even Jane Eyre, books that fit the “young adult” label?

  2. There is a fair amount of debate over what constitutes a “Young Adult” novel–whether its just that the protagonist is a teen/twenty-something or whether there are specific qualities that apply to these books (that they are plot-driven, focus on periods of change/maturation in the character’s lives). It being such a tenuous designation, I definitely think you could classify a lot of classic ‘adult’ novels as young adult. I think it goes the other way, too, though–there are classic novels that were written for adults originally, but are now basically always presented as books for kids and teens, like The Lord of the Flies or Animal Farm.

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