Why You Should Read Young Adult Literature

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Young Adult Literature

Young adult literature is geared toward teens, middle school/high school students, and students transitioning into adulthood. However, it is appealing to people of all ages and has recently gained more popularity with the new and exciting genres such as novels about dystopias and vampires which are being saturated by the publishing industry.

Young adult literature is generally well-written with well-developed characters, interesting plots, and satisfying conclusions. It is diverse, covering a wealth of topics, with infinite settings and characters from all backgrounds and ethnicities. Often difficult topics are approached and many sensitive subjects that young adults experience are described such as divorce, death, suicide, drugs, sex, bullying and abuse. The main characters are usually able to overcome their circumstances and a sense of hope is left for the reader.

What is the Appeal?

Young adults are different but they all have one thing in common. They sometimes feel alone, like there is no one else dealing with the things that they are dealing with. They have a strong need to connect with others. Young adult literature provides that opportunity. Students can connect with the characters in these books on some level and it makes life more manageable. Leah Epstein states that, “As the daughter of an alcoholic mother, I often wondered if there was anyone else out there in the world like me.” It wasn’t until she discovered Robin F. Brancato's Something Left to Lose, before she experienced a change in her life and how she would deal with her circumstances. Epstein like many other young adults was, “…aching to find characters that show them all the different ways of dealing with life's actual problems.”

Titles

You can often tell a lot about a young adult novel merely from its title. For example, Before I Die by Jenny Downham tells me that the book is about a young adult who is going to die, probably from a fatal disease because she knows her death is coming. The word “before” tells me that the book is not going to focus on death, but on the living she plans to do before death takes her from this life.

My Favorite Young Adult Novel

Holes by Louis Sachar is my favorite young adult novel. I was reading this novel to students many years before it ever became a movie. Students loved this book and so did I for so many reasons. It has a wide appeal and it has many meaningful messages. It can be used to promote discussion about numerous topics: discrimination, fairness, bullying, decision-making, good choices and so much more. It can be tied into all subject matters and is easy to create culminating activities for.

Holes has something for everyone; it provides adventure, suspense, romance, mystery, comedy, an interesting storyline, and it even gives the reader a glimpse into history. I love the way Sachar skillfully ties so many things together throughout the story, allowing the reader to piece the puzzle together and I also love the ending. Good triumphs over evil, leaving the reader with a great feeling. I also think Holes would appeal to all ages.

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