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Monday, March 17, 2014

Young Adult Fiction and the University

As many of you know, I am a college student, have been for almost four years now. Upon entering the college campus I was filled with excitement and joy to be around other people who liked to read and appreciated literature as I did, however I quickly discovered that my interests weren't in their "right" direction.

This is something no one tells you when you become an adult and enter the "real world." Your entire life you are encouraged to read and find things that you love and to take it all in and keep doing it and run with it until you're doing what you have been meant to do forever.

As long as whatever your something is matches up with their something.

I know we have all seen glimpses of this, people talking about "the man" and what not, but my experience of it has been on a much lesser scale.

My entire life I have greatly enjoyed children's fiction, and that turned into Young Adult fiction and since that I have stayed in love with it. Upon entering the University I was surrounded by people who actually looked down on me for that love.

Granted, Young Adult fiction is much more common a love than it once was, but I have still been approached with looks of feigned interest and fake smiles upon speaking of my passion. "Oh, that's great. I've been reading the Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire Volume One... but of course you know how difficult that is."

Yes, I know how difficult that is, but I have been to Oz, Hogwarts, Narnia, and Neverland just today so I frankly can't find the time to talk about it.

That is how I feel upon entering these situations. I find myself adding more and more to my descriptions upon speaking of the stories I love, but yet nothing can take away the "Young Adult Literature" blemish.

I have read classics, I have read Faulkner, Austen, Shakespeare, James, Plath, the Bronte's, Alcott, and numerous others. I read the occassional NA or Adult Fiction (if there is such a thing) title, and I do enjoy them, but my heart has always belonged to YA and Children's fiction.

We love literature, and we love great literature, and in my opinion it is the greatest literature because it is what hooks the reader and creates it. We learn to love reading from these stories of adventure, and fantasy, and impossible things. We learn to love literature from reading these stories that others may deem as "unworthy" but yet we say are the best kinds of story because they are the ones that teach you to love these words.

So, yes, it is okay to love Young Adult literature. It is okay to browse it when you're sixty. I am twenty two years old and I feel no shame in going over to the picture books and taking a seat, a stack of picture books in my hands.

I love Young Adult literature, I love picture books, I love children's books, and I love words. I love language that makes me smile, and characters that make me feel something. I love problems that may seem simple outwardly but are yet slammed with so many complex emotions I can't help but feel it in my soul.

My favorite books are The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen (A YA classic) and Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (An over one thousand page mega classic involving survival in the South during the Civil War).  These may be seen as different outwardly, and perhaps they really are, but they both made me feel the exact same emotions and the exact same love for the words on the page.

I left both books being lost for words, unable to appropriately re-enter my daily life because they made me feel THAT emotion no one can define.

Every book lover knows it, every book lover has felt it, and perhaps it was a children's book that first gave it to you.

I urge you to read what you want to read regardless of the age group for which it technically "belongs" I urge you to feel that undefinable emotion as many times as possible, with as many genres as you can find. This is one relationship where you can't be a cheater.

Read what you want. Read what you like, and do not allow anyone to make you feel like it is not worthy.

 You'll feel better when you do.


Jillian said...

ADORE this post. I couldn't agree more. I've taken so many literature classes, and apparently, people who major in English tend to not be a fan of Harry Potter, etc, even though a lot of them are. They tend to hide their love for these books then, and I just think that's sad. I hate book shaming, and people should be allowed to read whatever they want without being judged!

Christina said...

I agree! It's so strange how it works out that way. I am an English major and I'm over there shouting, "I LOVE KIDS BOOKS! PICTURE BOOKS! YA!!!" and they just shake their heads and walk away. Or at least that's how I view it...

itsonlythree said...

Could not agree more. I did a unit at my university - Children' sand Youth Writing. They were very specific on what define literature. Yet I still have no idea...

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