Sunday, August 27, 2006

wait... scratch that.... reverse it.

Everyone in the kidlitosphere and beyond is talking about adults reading YA books right now--like that's new?--but though naturally I am all for it, I keep thinking about what Roger Sutton had to say about YA readers needing to find adult books. Delightful though the YA field has become, especially compared to the cesspool of my youth (hmmm.... I think I may have a book title there... The Cesspool of My Youth) there still needs to be a transition to adult books.

The hardest thing about my own transition, I think, was not moving into a harsher world, but into one so much less concerned with story. That's one thing you can just about always count on with a children's book: things happen, and in a fairly orderly fashion, and the language is generally designed to make things clear rather than to obfuscate.

So how do YA readers move on? I was lucky enough to find a book on that very topic when I was sixteen or so and discovered several books which became favorites: I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith (happily back in print at the moment); Joy in the Morning by Betty Smith; (I'm tempted to insert a Thorne Smith title here, just to see if people are paying attention...) Fiction best sellers of the past often seemed to be good choices, perhaps because they are so often what are called "good reads." IE, books with lots of story. I can see that trend continuing with more recent past bestsellers like The Joy Luck Club (some young characters, enticing structure) and The Lilac Bus (ditto.)

I also had some luck trying the adult books of favorite children's authors. Margery Sharp (the "Miss Bianca" books) wrote wonderful novels, some featuring young characters. On the other hand, contemporary kids discovering that Lemony Snicket is also Daniel Handler might be in for some shocks.

If you're an adult, how did you transition? What will you help your young adult kids find to read?