As adults some of us leave YA/Middle Grade behind and some of us continue to revel in it…but what separates us as readers? If you still pick up YA/Middle Grade, what draws you to them instead of Adult Fiction? If you’ve “grown out” of those genres, why do they no longer spark joy in you? If you’re a teen, do you think you’ll still read YA/Middle Grade when you’re in your 20s/30s?
YA novels are roughly meant for the 12-17 age group – something I don’t agree with, but we’ll get to that later. I always tended to read ahead of my age group as a kid, which meant I discovered YA around the same time as middle grade so I was more or less reading Ella Enchanted and the Narnia series side by side with books like Anne of Green Gables and The Luxe.
When it comes to middle grade novels, I don’t really read them anymore, because I feel I’ve well and truly outgrown the genre. The protagonists are too young and frustratingly immature for me to relate to, the stakes are rarely high or exciting enough and it is, in my opinion, a genre that is limited to the age group it is written for. I can literally count on one hand the number of middle grade novels I read each year and they are all either rereads of childhood favourites, or from an author whose work I really enjoy. I am currently keeping up with only one middle grade series, Roshani Chokshi’s Pandava Quintet and that is largely because I can’t resist a good mythology retelling, regardless of the age group it is meant for.
YA novels are a whole other story though. They delve into such interesting themes and conflicts and the writing tends to be really good for the most part. They are also much faster and easier to read. I’m not the type to shy away from a book merely because it’s long, but reading so many of those back to back can get quite exhausting! YA novels are more and more frequently treading into territory that would be more appropriate for late teens or the ambiguous ‘new adult’ categorization, which increases its appeal well beyond its target age groups. Coming of age stories for example are something that most if not all readers can relate to to some extent. In some cases, I’m really invested in a particular series or books by an author, so those are automatic additions to my TBR pretty much regardless of what age group they are meant for.
But I think the main reason why I still read YA is that the genre continues to surprise me with something new and innovative, year after year. I’ve heard more times than I can count how I should move on from YA titles and start reading some real literature, but the bottom line is that though there are adult novels I enjoy across genres, and I do try to expand my reading with them, as long as I enjoy YA, it will continue to feature regularly on my TBR for quite a few years yet, if not permanently.
Why do/don’t you read YA or middle grade novels? Share your thoughts in the comments below!