Maturity for the Ages: Why YA Literature Needs More Mature Themes

As a twenty-five-year-old, I sometimes get asked if I am embarrassed for reading young adult literature. Depending on the person and how smart I want to sound, I either say yes or no.
But these occurrences have me thinking about why I like reading young adult literature. The main reason would have to be the themes associated with these books. I find at my age that I am still figuring things out. I literally have no idea what I am doing most of the time. I am still thinking about what I want to be and I what I want to do. These thoughts and feelings still align with young adult literature. Simply put, I like things I can relate to. But this begs the question, is young adult literature moving towards more mature themes?
In a recent article the Guardian cites figures from Nielsen that show 80 percent of YA literature is read by people over twenty-five.
Well this makes me feel better. Personally, I think it is a good thing that young adult literature is taking on more adult themes like race, rape, assault, economic hardships, etc., because becoming and being an adult is hard. All these hard issues are what adults, people, encounter at some point in their lives. Just because a person is sixteen or seventeen does not mean that they are not ready to read about tough issues.
All they have to do is turn on the news or visit websites and they’ll see those tough issues. If society can start a healthy dialogue on these issues when people are young, wouldn’t that help them become more understanding, more open to sharing their issues, and more receptive to different ideas, thus becoming a better person? Some critics disagree. In the same Guardian article, the author argues that real teenage books are not getting published. But is this actually true? Teenagers encounter issues such as drug use, rape, and violence—these are not confined to adults, because experience is not confined to a certain age. I think that if teens are seeing more mature content in their books, then maybe it is something they also can relate to. Not just teens either. Literature is for everyone.
Some might say adding more mature themes into young adult books is a business tool to get more adults to buy the books, considering they are the ones with the money. And that may be so, but teens can still benefit from seeing these tough situations. Teens can still relate and connect with literature just like adults. So the next time someone asks if I feel embarrassed for reading YA, I will smile and say nope, because experience and issues do not have an age limit.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *