The Value of Young-Adult Fiction

Why do more adults read YA fiction than teenagers do? What is it that so attracts the adult reader, if the genre contains the same ratio of good to bad writing as any other?

One obvious and undersung answer is that adults writing for children bring a cleaner perspective to their work. Sex and violence are present in their full human complexity, with fleeting emotional intensity, rather than in a numbing barrage of obscenity. The familiar social structures of young life, from school to summer camp to family life, provide a familiar backdrop for archetypal stories like first love and first loss. They allow adults to enjoy timeless themes with all of adult literary fiction’s seriousness, but little to none of its cynicism or vulgarity. They remove the obligation of maturity, while revealing the importance of life experience. In short, young-adult fiction does not condescend to its readers. It should be no surprise that it sells.

Catherine Addington

About the author

Kevin Holtsberry

I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season - oh, and watching golf too).

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