So, my bookish bestie and I took a little adventure to our local wine shop a few weeks ago to purchase our wine of the month for our book club meeting. While we were there, we had a very…interesting conversation with the gentleman that rang us up. That conversation seriously got me thinking about this topic. Why is it that it’s considered socially acceptable to read books about characters your own age and older, but so many people look down on you if you read books about characters who are younger than you?
The conversation went something like this:
- Wine Seller: “What are the matching wine bottles for?
- Bookish Bestie: “They’re for our book club. We pair wines with books.”
- Wine Seller: “Oh. So what are you reading?”
- Me: “Will Grayson Will Grayson.”
- Bookish Bestie: “It’s a YA and Wine book club.”
- Wine Seller: “What’s YA?”
- Bookish Bestie: “It’s Young Adult Literature.”
- Wine Seller: “Do you have kids?”
- Me: “No.”
- Wine Seller: “Oh.” [Insert super judgmental look here]
Now, of course, I understand that this gentleman is under the impression that reading YA Lit is somehow immature due to some ignorance of YA and literature in general on his part. But I think this social stigma goes deeper than that. It applies not just to books but to movies, television shows, even language.
Not only is this idea ageist, it tells young adults that their ideas, opinions, values, and lives are less important. It tells adults that read YA that they’re somehow less mature, that what they read does not help them grow intellectually and emotionally, which is so far from the truth.
This kind of thinking is what perpetuates old stereotypes and ways of thinking. We should be encouraging people to read books from the perspectives of people of all races, religious backgrounds, sexual orientations, genders, and YES, ages. This is how we learn to understand one another. This is how we truly walk in each others shoes. And this is how we truly move forward as a society.
YA literature IS important. And to all of you book bloggers out there discussing the important real-world issues and themes that are highlighted in the YA books you read, what you’re doing is important too.
So keep reading YA! Keep writing about it! And keep encouraging others to do the same!