Books And Teens
I remember reading a series of books when I was a preteen and young teen, whose series name I can’t remember. The protagonists (mostly teen girls) were plagued by such ills as possession, demons, witches, and other nefarious creatures who would — and did — take their lives given the opportunity.
I finally got so freaked out by them that I had to cut myself off. I made a firm decision that, despite the fact that all my friends were reading them, I needed to stop.
In some ways, not much has changed in teen literature (also called Young Adult, or YA). Teens in these books still struggle with a great number of trying ordeals. Although, there seem to be fewer metaphysical crises and more concerns like teen pregnancy, drug use, and drunk driving.
What’s the appeal?
Most of the bleak YA stories don’t necessarily represent what the reader is actually going through. She may relate to some aspect of the protagonist’s story — say, not getting along with parents, or feeling isolated and alone. But it isn’t as though she’s actually living this character’s life. And aren’t we all drawn to dramatic stories that help us put our own little lives into perspective?
Kids can also take inspiration from the attitude and action of a protagonist suffering from a larger than life crisis. If the character demonstrates a positive attitude, a stick-to-it-iveness that overrides her unfortunate circumstances, that can be an important less for teens.
However, while there certainly is a bounty of doom-and-gloom novels for teens, that isn’t the whole story. There are a number of other books that appeal to teens that deal with the everyday issues. Bad hair days, boys not liking you back, and coping with unfair teachers or parents are also common plot lines.
Getting your kids reading is good, even if you can’t understand the draw to these particular stories. So go ahead and ask! Maybe this is an opening to a great conversation between the two of you. And before too long, your kids will be reading books that you might be interested in, too. They might even join your book club (ok, maybe not…).