I’m not a teen anymore. I haven’t been for two years. I am friends with a lot of awesome people who haven’t been teens for awhile, and some brand new non-teens. We all enjoy YA. Duh, that’s why most of us have blogs, Youtube channels, snapchats, Instagram’s, and Twitter accounts dedicated to interacting and socializing with each other (fellow YA lovers) and the YA authors (who, for the most part, usually aren’t teens either).
So, when my local independent bookstore had told me (and a couple other bloggers) a few months back that they were planning a Teen Book Con and would love to have us there, we were stoked! Come to find out, that they’re limiting the age to 19 year old’s and younger.
On the very forefront, this says to me that anyone over the age of 19 (or if you’re not a teen) then you’re excluded from YA. Now I’m SURE that is not their intention at all (because let’s face it, they are usually pretty awesome). However, this does alienate an entire group of people who do not classify themselves as teens but still LOVE YA lit!
For me in particular, this really hit home because age classification in literature has always rubbed me the wrong way. In elementary through high school we had to take these tests that told us what our “reading level” was. Of course I always scored in the top percentile because I was always a very good reader. And there were usually those few parents lurking around that wanted to ban certain books from schools.
One that stands out in particular was I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. Their reasoning? It dealt with rape and that wasn’t something kids in high school should be reading. How enraging is that? We can’t live in perfect little bubbles forever. That’s why college is such a huge wake up call to some people, and could potentially lead to MORE horrible assaults/crime since this stuff is actively hidden from teens.
So, yes, I may not be a teen anymore. But I still love adventure, action, sappy high school romance stories, and reading books with teens! I recommend books to my parents ALL THE TIME that are classified as YA and they do the same for me. Segregating audiences is so harmful. Let people of all ages read whatever they want. Let them have the experiences that speak to them and warm their heart. Let them relate to these characters and allow them to have an opportunity to relate to someone who might over them solace when no one IRL can. But don’t limit YA to only teens because you no longer are a 19 year old. It’s just wrong.
(I had to use this gif especially for you, Emily)
What do you think? Agree? Disagree? What’s your YA story? Leave me a comment!