Wait, it is Not Ok to Read that Book....What?

This was a big weekend for young adult fiction fans in more ways than one.  The Fault in Our Stars hit the big screen to large crowds and strong reviews.  The movie is based on the young adult novel with the same title by John Green.  Green is one of my favorite authors, as I have read nearly all of his books.  His books fly off my shelves in the Carlson High School Library.  As a close to 40 something adult I really enjoy his work....which brings me to the other big news involving young adult fiction.

A New York Times Best Seller...Remember That as you Read What Comes Next

This week in an article via Slate.com Ruth Graham shames adult readers for reading...and mainly enjoying young adult fiction.  The article proceeds to mention that many of these young adult novels have been finding there way into adult hands and then moving on to enjoy success as movies as well.  While Graham does include the disclaimer "read whatever you want" that did not stop many from expressing anger and questioning the author's opinion.

I follow a number of authors on Twitter and most were shocked by Graham's thoughts on the genre of young adult literature.  Kat Kinsman of CNN.com published a great response to Graham's piece.  I agree with Kinsman's opinion that for some reason Ruth Graham feels readers should be judged by what they pick up to enjoy as their next book choice.  Readers should not worry about being judged based upon the genre or title they select to read.

So, I have a few thoughts on Graham's piece that I would like to share:

  • First, one of my career and personal goals is to help create life-long readers.  I believe the best way to do this is to encourage people around me to read what they like!  We will all have to read books we do not like or enjoy as students....but once school is finished individuals should still want to enjoy reading whatever it is they like.  Too many students leave school hating all books....because everything they were forced to read once they hit middle school they "hated."  The last thing we need is somebody scolding adults for reading the books they enjoy.
  • As a high school librarian I read many young adult novels as I review them to purchase for our students in the Carlson High School Library.  Just like in any genre of work, there are excellent books/authors and terrible books/authors.  The same occurs for books aimed at adults.  As an adult, I would rather read an excellent young adult novel instead of a lousy book aimed at adults.  It has always been my policy that if I am not enjoying a book I just stop and do not waste my time on the title.  For example I loved the popular Suzanne Collins titles The Hunger Games and Catching Fire but quit Mokcingjay about a quarter of the way through because I did not enjoy what I have read.
  • I really think some of these young adult authors are very good at their craft.  If you have read any of my Read of the Month reviews you know I am a huge John Green fan.  I would not be surprised to find his work in high school English classes down the road as I start to think about retirement.  

Ruth Graham has the right to her opinion, I just do not agree.  I will always say read what you enjoy reading.  There was a time I would feel guilty about picking up a true crime book each year, or I was embarrassed because I have yet to read every "classic" on my library shelves.  Then I realized I was still reading at least one book a month, not to mention various magazines, newspapers and online articles each day.   The important thing was I was still reading....daily.  I will keep reading whatever I like and enjoy, that is what is important!  

I would love to know what others think of Graham's article.  Do you read and enjoy young adult fiction?  Do you ever feel embarrassed about what you are reading?  Did you go see The Fault in Our Stars this weekend....and did you cry?  Happy Reading!


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