It’s nothing new to have to explain to others why I still read fantasy, why fairy tales are worthy of my time, and that yes, I read YA books. Even so, people still feel the need to put down what they don’t understand. That’s why it was so refreshing to see Kristin Cashore express her frustration at Joel Stein‘s NY Times rant that ‘adults shouldn’t be wasting their time reading books for young adults and children.’ I especially appreciated Patricia McCormick’s response where she beautifully articulates:
“It’s because adults are discovering one of publishing’s best-kept secrets: that young adult authors are doing some of the most daring work out there. Authors who write for young adults are taking creative risks — with narrative structure, voice and social commentary — that you just don’t see as often in the more rarefied world of adult fiction.”
When I was 11 years old, a kid in my middle school homeroom class came over to me and took one look at the tattered paperback that I was reading, Dealing with Dragons (Book One of The Enchanted Forest Chronicles) by Patricia C. Wrede, and started making fun of me for reading a ‘fantasy kids book about mythical creatures.’ What is most absurd about this story is that I was teased for reading young adult books even when I was a young adult.
I know that if you are seeing this post, you’re probably a fellow believer in the importance of reading and writing stories that push boundaries and are worth telling, regardless of how they’ve been categorized, or what sort of elements make up that story. No matter what age you are, never let anyone tell you that you shouldn’t be reading something that you love, especially when it’s a book that has the ability to open new worlds for you where there were only closed doors and shuttered windows before. Bravo to Cashore and McCormick for standing up for their fellow readers, and lending their voices to support great literature that comes in all genres and guises.