Thursday, June 12, 2014

Teen Reading in the 80s

I'm participating in Booknificent Thursday.  You should join in! You just link up to a post you've written about books, reading, or literacy. You can even link up to a past blog.




All of the hoopla about adults reading young adult fiction started me thinking about how much YA has changed since I was a kid. Critics are currently blasting adults for reading "books for children." But are these books really for children?




Today's teen novels deal with topics like cutting, rape, alcoholism, teen pregnancy, suicide, murder... The list goes on. These topics can all be pretty dark, even for adult readers. Do many parents want their teens reading them?



There's no denying YA is getting increasingly darker. We had our dark books when I was a kid, too. Namely this one.



We'll just say V.C. Andrews' books weren't exactly on the "approved reading" list. But dark, angsty novels were much rarer in those days. And I'm pretty sure adults read those, as well. They also tended to dip into books like this.





When I think of "books written for children," I'm much more likely to think of YA books that are a tad bit sweeter. In the 80s, we had YA books like this.




And this.



But time marches on. Today's 12-year-olds don't read Sweet Valley High-like novels. They read middle grade. Older kids read YA. Older kids and adults, apparently.




Do you think today's young adult novels are appropriate for adults?

38 comments:

  1. I read adult books as a teen. I wish we had YA books like we do today. And no, I don't think YA is just for teens. It's for teens and up according to the age level description. ;)

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  2. It seemed like The Hunger Games was marketed towards teens but I think more adults read them that teenagers did!

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  3. I read adult books as a teen and YA books as an adult. YA books sure have changed. They seemed a lot more innocent, which is why I believe many turned to V.C. Andrews and other racy books. People of all ages want to see real or strange issues.

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  4. I think more adults read them than actual teens. And some of the content is really dark. Sign of the times, which is sad.
    Young adult pretty much didn't exist when I was a teen. I went from kids' books straight to adult science fiction and fantasy.

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  5. Read whatever you want, I say!

    I read Sydney Sneldon books in high school, as there really weren't that many YA books available, I did love The Outsiders though.

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  6. Should say Sydney Sheldon

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  7. Even Sweet Valley High featured some dark things -- drug abuse and death from an overdose, kidnappings for ransom ... They weren't all pretty and sweet.

    I started reading Sydney Sheldon when I was 1, so I'm probably not the person to ask about whether kids should read The Hunger Games. lol

    I don't gravitate to YA, but I have read a few of the more recent ones and I don't get the criticism. They are mostly well-written and deal with some pretty intense themes. The Book Thief actually gave me nightmares. I didn't sleep for a week reading that book.

    Besides, who says adults should only ever read deep, thought-provoking, great literature? Not that some YA isn't those things, but sometimes we just want something fun and light, too.

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  8. 90% of today's YA books are not appropriate for anyone, not to mention for teens. It scares me just to think what kind of generations these books will produce in the near future... Most of today's YA books are written by deeply irresponsible people who have no sense of what their writing can do in the shaping of their young readers' minds and personalities. We've already seen that today's world has become insensitive to real life wars, pain and suffering because the kids were exposed to extremely violent video games and movies and now they don't take it seriously enough.

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  9. My kids are all matured adults so I'm not really sure what teens reads now but when I was raising my kids it was Agatha Christie mystery novels, Anne of Green Gable, The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew etc. How time have changed.

    I mostly see teens walking around texting or plugged in to some electronic device, that's how much I know...
    JB

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  10. I don't really look at genre at all for myself or my kids. I look at appropriateness and content. There are many books, both adult and YA, I don't feel are appropriate for me to read because I try to fill my mind with good and true things. I don't mind realism, but I don't need racy or evil. But there are some absolutely beautiful YA books that I count as some of my all-time favorite books. Shannon Hale's books come to mind.

    This is a great topic! I'm glad you linked it up at Booknificent Thursday! I hope to see you often!
    Tina

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  11. When I was a teen 70's/80's I had already devoured Judy Blume's books and the classic's like the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. So btwn 12-18 I was reading adult books like Stephen King, Agatha Christie, Nora Roberts and any the steamy romances my Mom kept under her bed...LOL

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  12. i liked trixie belden, myself. i definitely wasn't into dark, gloomy, scary, moody stuff.

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  13. Be dammed if someone told me what i can and can't read. If I want to reread Green Eggs and Ham...I will...and I did just last week. I read the Little House series and I wonder how many adults read those series of books...at least Michael Landon did. I also read The Diary of Anne Frank and i related to her because she was a teen and wrote about the Boy pete and her first period and the problems with her mom. Very typical teen stuff except she, her family and the other family were hiding from the Nazis and all but her dad perished. i recall, in the 70's, that a bill was trying to be passed to ban Huckleberry Finn and The Diviners. Thankfully it did not pass. I think if we read, even just comics, we are reading and that is a good thing

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  14. I think YA books today are appropriate. Goodness, I was reading Stephen King by age 13. YA is tame in comparison. And I did love Sweet Valley High too, but I read those in elementary school.

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  15. I never read teen books growing up in the 50s/60s. I'm not sure there was such a thing. So I can't answer this question.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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  16. I guess Childrens/YA has changed with the times too, and more realistic in the world we live in now. I loved the Roswell High books, read them all like ten times, haven't read them in the last 7 years, so don't know if I read them now if I'd like them all that much, my tastes have definitely changed since then. But, I think YA would read a lot more now than before, the genre's pretty open to anything, and diversity is something you need too, whether you're an adult or a young adult.

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  17. Just wanted to say I LOVE reading YA and there are some very high-quality books out there. In fact, the argument against adults reading YA made me realize just how far these books have come. Many writers who originally wrote for adults are now writing YA because the market is so strong and, well, it's fun! I read middle grade, too...and was surprised how much I enjoyed reading them when I read the first one. I even read the Junie B. Jones and Magic Treehouse series--both chapter book series for very young children. I read those for writing research...but I enjoyed every minute of it!

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  18. My daughter reads a bit of both adult and young adult because her reading level is so advanced. I tend to read both. I remember all of those books you mentioned and I read em all. I have loved to read ever since I figured out how. The Flowers in the Attic was one creepy, scary book. I loved the Hunger Games and I love Harry Potter. I also love Stephen King, Debbie Macomber, and Danielle Steel. Loved the Lord of the Rings...but it just depends what I am in the mood for. Its all good!

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  19. I read all my books on my Kindle.

    I read adult books all my life.

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  20. I went from kiddie books to adult books, for the most part. But I was (and am) a big fan of The Outsiders.

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  21. One of my absolute favorite books, The Book Thief, was written for young adults! So I approve :)

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  22. Ah! Sweet Valley High!! Loved those! Books have definitely changed! I think the key to a kid reading any book is a parent right behind them willing to talk about it. Unfortunately, the world is filled with darkness. To be the light, we must be aware of the darkness. Sometimes I think we shelter our kids too much. I want to preserve my daughter's innocence, but I also want her to be a mighty woman of God--I don't think you can fully do both!

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  23. I read the Hardy Boys when I was in grade school. As I got older I started reading adult books. Never really got into the YA titles unless they were assigned by my English teacher.

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  24. Flowers in the Attic is not a tame book even today..

    However I do think children can read about difficult subjects, you can't leave them in the dark, they won't be there long from their friends.

    I don't mind my children reading these types of books because I also talk to my child openly about anything they want to talk about. I would rather be the person answering their hard questions then someone who would give them misinformation.

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  25. I have to admit i'm still a teen so i completely think YA books are appropiate for my age group right now. i've read a lot of adult books with heavier subjects in the past and i went through alll the Judy Bloome books when i was about 10-11 so i just need more mature reads now lol
    Great discussion post :)

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  26. YES!

    I just finished Fan Girl, which is young adult. I didn't feel weird reading it at all. I could relate to the characters.

    I also read The Fault In Our Stars. Also a good one.

    And The Hunger Game series.

    I read a lot of YA, basically.

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  27. What are these books of which you speak? ;-)

    Not that much of a reader actually, I mostly read to learn things I need to know.

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  28. I'm with you - the YA stuff keeps getting darker and darker. Frankly, the quality of the writing isn't any better,though. I might give some leeway for a great read, but sadly, that's not the case.

    I did like The Hunger Games series, however. A bit dark, but quick read with a storyline.

    Great post, Stephanie!
    Cherdo
    www.cherdoontheflipside.com

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  29. YA novels are appropriate for any adult who wants to read them. One can learn a lot from YA.

    Love,
    Janie

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  30. I think YA is for teens and up. If adults want to read them that is because they can connect to the characters and enjoy the plot. People should read whatever gets them wanting to read. :)

    I read all the VC Andrews books when I was growing up!

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  31. Keep in mind, Lord of the Flies has been around for a while.

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  32. When I was a kid I read adult books like King and Koontz (although I did enjoy some Sweet Valley High at one point) These days I pretty much only read YA, and although I probably would read a little less of it if I wasn't writing it, I'd still be reading it because it's awesome.

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  33. Ditto what Alex said. I thought I was the only one that old, LOL! Asimov and Tolkien were my first. Somewhere, I read the huge percentage of adults who read YA. I can't remember if it was a third or more. I read YA to avoid the sex and violence level in adult books, so I'm sad when I find it in YA. I'm reading more and more middle grade and loving it.

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  34. I never thought about it but you're right it changed a lot. But well I read adult books quite soon too.

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  35. I read that article in Slate. She made some good points, but in the end I couldn't agree that anyone should say what adults should or should not read.

    Ah, Flowers in the Attic. One of my high school friends was obsessed with that series. She told me all about it. And I knew I'd never read it. Not my thing.

    In the '80s, there were some serious YA books, too. I read many of them. I once kept a list... which has gone missing in the intervening years. Sigh.

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  36. Sure, why not? Anyone reading anything is good, IMO. Let adults read YA and young adults read adult books. What's the harm?

    One thing I really love about my mother is that she never censored anything I read. Once I exhausted my own supply of books and the local library's, I would tackle hers. It led to lots of interesting conversations, and I don't think it hurt me at all--even the Jackie Collins books. ;)

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  37. Well, I kinda like YA books these days. I love books by John Green. And The Hunger Games series. :))

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