Adults in YA: Why We Still Read, Part 6

If you're an avid YA reader, there's no way you've escaped hearing about the stigma that surrounds the genre -- the fact that people who read YA even though they're older than the "targeted market" are often seen as immature, nostalgic, or stuck in their younger years. Recently, after our university newspaper posted an opinion piece in which the writer talked about how we all need to "read our age" -- meaning, basically, that we should break away from YA and focus on the classics such as Dickens -- we decided to send out a Tweet and ask if there were any other YA readers that were over 18 out there. Not to start trouble or stir up angry feelings, but just to see -- just how many "out of the age range" YA readers are there? Our Tweet was as follows:

SOS! 🗣 Do you read YA even though you’re 18+? If you do, please DM us or reply to this Tweet — we have a post idea, and we need your help! #replytweet

— The Book Bratz (@thebookbratz) March 14, 2019

Well, it's safe to say the response we got was absolutely overwhelming. We got nearly 1,000 people over the age of 18 who wanted to tell us why they still read YA even though they're past the "marketable" age-range for the genre. We had so many amazing responses that we wanted to take the time to share them all with you -- but since there are so many, it turns out that we had to make it a series! For 10 whole weeks, we're going to be sharing 10 reasons (100 in total!) why "older" YA readers stick with the genre, and why it's important to them. So without further ado, here are 10 readers above the age of 18 who explained to us why they still read YA:

Just because you’re not a "young adult’" anymore doesn’t mean you have forgotten what it was like. Reading contemporary YA, for example, makes me reflect on my time as a "young adult" and all the crazy emotions that went with it. With something like YA fantasy, it lets me imagine what it might have been like if I had been a teenager growing up in that world and the different challenges I might have faced. The language of YA novels is also more straightforward: it is simplified and more direct, making it accessible to a wider range of readers. At 27, I am a YA author and for me, I want people of all ages -- young or young at heart -- to feel the thrill of living in my world. 

I read YA because I find more room for growth, for expression, for people being people. Adult fiction often seems so set in its ways, like no one's allowed to question things like identity or the way things are. YA fiction, whatever the genre, has more of this ability: more hope and often times, generally, better storytelling/writing. The quality, the ability to feel at home or to explore places, all while still allowed to question things about myself or situations, make YA books so special to me. 

I read YA (and MG) because they’re FUN! And you never grow out of fun. Both of those age categories are capable of incredible depth too, but don’t take themselves too seriously. 

I started reading YA when my kids became old enough to read chapter books. I wanted to screen, to suggest good reads and to be able to discuss with them what they were reading. My kids are now adults and I’m pretty sure I am the only one still reading YA. The characters are often inspiring. The stories may be exceedingly well written and thought provoking. These things are not unique to young adults but are part of the human experience. I think those of us no longer “young” can appreciate these gems even more than kids can! 
-@kvbuchanan, Age 51

I was in a book slump for a couple of years and Young Adult fiction helped me get back into reading. I’m rather grateful to them because I love reading. I love that I can find female-led stories in the SciFi/Fantasy genre in Young Adult fiction so easily. Even before I read Young Adult fiction, I used to watch TV shows like One Tree Hill and Veronica Mars. I don’t remember there being issues with adults watching those shows so what’s the problem with adults reading YA? 

I always had a hard time articulating why I read YA as an adult. Then, in 2011, I read a School Library Journal article by Angelina Benedetti that said it perfectly: "Books for teens are designed to hook readers and keep them reading. In most cases, the first 15 pages of a YA novel introduce the protagonist(s), plot, and source of dramatic tension, something that can take nearly 50 pages in a book for adults." In my busy life, the quick hook of YA has helped me to read between 150 to 200 books a year. Regardless of the age of the protagonist, a good story will consume you. On another note, I have found that YA authors are far more responsive to fans. They will engage on social media and are quick to thank me for supportive posts. That personal touch has made me a lifelong fan of writers like Stephanie Garber, Sabaa Tahir, and Stacey Lee, to name just a few. 

Reading is a visceral experience and most adults read for pleasure, relaxation and escapism. A lot of women, myself included, don’t want to spend our precious free time contemplating bad spouses, chemical abuse and the worst aspects of a sick society’s inhumanity. It’s my opinion that when chick lit fell out of favor with the publishing industry, readers found something new to fill the void. And they turned to YA, which feels very familiar when you view it in that context. For the record, much of YA writing is equal to or of a higher caliber than books written for adults. YA always leaves the reader with hope and often (though not always) is a light and satisfying way to dip into the world of teens and come out with a sense of awe, enthusiasm and determination that I, for one, hope to never lose no matter my age. Read on, dear readers, what you risk in sophistication points you will more than regain in positivity and a new outlook on the world. After all, our youth of today will be in charge someday. Let’s give them some credit. 

Many YA books explore difficult and critical topics such as race, sexuality, gender, morality, life and death — the list goes on. These are best explored in the context of a YA novel, as they can be overwhelming otherwise. Packaging such topics in a YA novel allows authors to provide an entertaining and enlightening experience for readers. With the established tropes and themes of the genre, authors are often able to creatively play with readers’ expectations in unique and innovative ways. Don’t write YA off so quickly — you’re missing out if you do. 

YA is my favorite genre to read. I know I’m only in my 20s, so I’m not too too far off from being in high school, but it brings me back to that time and I can escape, even though I can escape in many books. Yes, it’s supposed to be geared towards 12-18 year olds, but I still relate to many of the characters. I see me in YA books more than any other genre. And anyway, why should anyone care what I read? I read for ME, not anyone else. It shouldn’t matter, as long as you’re enjoying what you read. 

I still read YA books for many reasons. I'm a 48 year old 2nd grade teacher with 9 and 5 year olds. Not only does reading YA keep me in the proverbial loop, but most of it is just good reading. There is no good reason NOT to read it. It's ageist to think big humans can't read fiction meant for younger folk. The Book Thief is still one of my favorite books. Why We Broke Up was as fantastically illustrated as it was written. 

What are your thoughts about reading YA past the "age-appropriate" market? If you have something else to add on this topic, feel free to comment down below and share your opinions! Also be on the lookout for another post next week, where we share even more thoughts from other 18+ YA readers!

Check Out The Previous Posts:

Part One
Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Part Five


  1. I'm loving all the great responses!!

  2. Thank you for including me in this amazing series. Answers vary as widely as the ages of readers!

  3. Lots of fantastics reasons that we still love to read YA here! I'm 45, and I still enjoy YA and MG reads far more than I do adult books. I've occasionally tried to pepper in more adult selections, but I eventually find myself drifting back to YA---I just like it better!!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction


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