Take This Quiz: Are You Young Enough to Read YA Books?

Originally published June 2014

Hey! You! Reading “The Fault in Our Stars!” How OLD are you?

I woke up this morning to a bit of a book ballyhoo on the Interwebs—a writer’s mini-manifesto on adults that choose to read young adult novels, and that perhaps they should be embarrassed.

Silly adults. Why are you reading YA books? Who do you think you are?

Wonder if maybe you are too old to read YA? Take this quiz:

  1. Has someone measured you for a coffin? If the answer is no, you can read YA.
  2. Are you lying flat on your back in said coffin, with family, friends and loved ones, and the guy who dumped you in high school, surrounding you and weeping? If the answer is no, you can read YA.
  3. Are you worm food? If the answer is no, you can read YA.
  4. Are you breathing? If the answer is yes, you can read YA.

There is a tiny tiny part of me that thinks I might understand where Ms. Graham might have been trying to go with her post. I did enjoy “The Fault in our Stars,” but did not have the highly emotional reaction that so many people did. I will admit I would probably be a little smug if I were to see a bunch of 40-somethings positively giddy in line at a Stephenie Meyer book signing. But after thinking it through, it really wouldn’t be their age that would bother me. I’d be more disturbed that a bad book was getting so much love.

But in this day and age, when people spend more time texting then talking, I am thrilled that ANYONE READS ANYTHING. YA is not the same YA as it was when I was of “YA age,” whatever the hell that is. Back in the day, younger readers finished off their “Little House” and “Nancy Drew” and “Boxcar Children” series and were left with Madeline L’Engle and Judy Blume (one of the most awesomest authors ever, BTW) and … that’s about it. Today, there’s John Green and Rainbow Rowell and Neil Freakin’ Gaiman. Neil Gaiman! “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” is, in my mind, a YA book, but holy hell, I can’t imagine NOT recommending that amazing piece of literature to adults.

What Ms. Graham also fails to recognize, on a monumental scale, is the power of books to create a bridge between adults and their kids. It is with books like the aforementioned Gaiman, and The Hunger Games, Rowell’s “Fangirl” and Blue Balliett’s “The Wright 3” that I can have amazing, thought-provoking conversations with my kids. And it’s through those conversations that so many life lessons are taught — and the added benefit of raising a lifelong reader. The notion that somehow I should be embarrassed to read those books hurts the soul. When I see a woman reading one of those books, I think, “Awesome parent!” — not “Silly lady …”

Judge all you want, Ms. Graham. You just keep on keeping on. I’m busy reading with my kids.

I love books. ALL kinds of books. Even YA books. If you want to know what I’m up to, type your email address in the box and click the “create subscription” button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.

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