As we drive down from a weekend in NY, talk turns to books. Actually, my daughter and I began to discuss books we love. This happens a lot. Right now, my youngest is busy with his nose deep in one and my husband is driving. We left my eldest back in NY so the conversation was between Lyric and me. Lyric, who is now 15, has often been my sounding board, my first reader, first editor, first critic. She taught me a lot about writing for kids. First and foremost, don’t do it. That is, don’t ever write down to kids because they are smarter than most adults.
So I asked her to write her own thoughts about YA/MG literature. She is an excellent writer, reader, critic, poet, and I am so glad to invite her here today.
In the words of Le Petit Prince, “grown-ups like numbers . . . You have to tell them, ‘I saw a house worth a hundred thousand francs.’ Then they exclaim, ‘What a pretty house!’” If a novel has a 4.5-out-of-5-star rating, in the eyes of such adults, it must be a good book. Too often, adults feel a societal obligation to bear through literature that may not truly interest them because of its social or intellectual prestige. Books written for adults don’t always require the same attention-to-reader that young adult literature does.
As a young adult, I can attest that if a novel doesn’t engage me, I don’t care how highly it was rated— I’m going to put it down. If the writer doesn’t paint a world so visceral that my own world disappears as I read, then, regardless of the writer’s esteem in literary circles across the nation, I won’t keep reading. You authors of young adult literature have the difficult task of writing wholly captivating stories, as the story is all that your audience cares about. Accordingly, young adult literature makes up some of the best literature on the whole planet (and the whole universe, for that matter).
As far as I’m concerned, the labels “young adult” and “middle-grade” are largely misleading. Young adult novels aren’t too callow or adolescent to be liked only by young adults. Rather, they’re exciting and enthralling enough to be liked by young adults. Any adult that claims to be too sophisticated to be interested by Harry Potter or too refined to enjoy Percy Jackson and the Olympians is, in fact, too uncultured to appreciate fine literature on its own merit and the pleasure of being lost in a good book.
-Lyric Unger Bowditch
I thought I’d include a photo of Lyric. Hers is beautiful face that shines from the cover of The Ravens of Solemano… so I’ve included that.
Thank you, my wonderful daughter! – eden unger bowditch