bookish posts

2013 Armchair BEA: children’s lit


My favorite category! I definitely enjoy reading children’s lit, especially if we’re lumping YA in with that. This probably isn’t surprising, since I tend to cover that area here. I think in this post, I’ll focus on YA, because a lot of my children’s reading tends to be nostalgic–the books I loved when I was younger–and therefore the reasons I read it are pretty obvious and not necessarily interesting to others.

I’m drawn to reading YA for several reasons. First, I find that YA authors tend to tell the story and get out of the way. This is not to say that there aren’t authors who have big egos, or who insert themselves in the story, or who write thinly-disguised versions of their own lives. But this happens less often, and rather than getting praise for deep insight, they tend to get called on this.

I also find that YA books are often tight, focused, and well-edited. Again, this is not to say that this never happens in adult books, or that this always happens in YA. In the last few years, especially, several doorstop-sized books have come out which I personally think could have been pared down quite a bit. However, overall, I find that it’s easy to be engaged in a YA book, that there’s a sense of plot and intensity that I appreciate.

It’s also true that I find the age that YA is aimed for exciting. There’s a sense of excitement, of newness and possibility. YA is full of questions about identity, about relationships with family, and the world we live in. I find this kind of theme fascinating, challenging, and often inspiring.

Plus, we are really in a golden age of YA literature right now. There is so much being published, in every genre you can think of. Some of them are not my favorites, but I think it’s pretty incredible how much there is for just about everyone.

All of these reasons are true, and yet I don’t think they really capture why I love reading YA so much. I’m not sure I CAN capture it. I think the truth is simply that the kind of books I am inclined to like are most often found in YA, and therefore that’s what I read.

By Maureen LaFerney

My name is Maureen. I currently work as a library assistant in a public library in the Indianapolis area, and also just so happen to be a voracious reader. I frequently end up under a cat.

9 replies on “2013 Armchair BEA: children’s lit”

I love the reasons that you mentioned, those are the same reasons why I read YA as well. But truth be told, I don’t think I can really articulate why I keep coming back for more. This is why I wasn’t able to come up with an ArmchairBEA post about this topic. 😛 I do agree that we are in a golden age of YA and that’s a great thing for readers like us.

Megan Whalen Turner is a huge favorite of mine! So is Diana Wynne Jones and Robin McKinley–they’re all relatively gentle fantasies for younger teens. YS Lee’s The Agency series is great for mysteries + history. Jellicoe Road is probably my favorite realistic YA book. It all depends on what you’re looking for!

I agree with so much of what you said! I love the sense of excitement, of newness and possibility, too! I love all the discovery going on. Plus, I really enjoy the family aspect.

I think families in children’s and YA books are just fascinating. Thanks for the comment!

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