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Friday, 26 July 2013

What's your age again?


My love for Disney began at a young age.
How can you not love Mickey Mouse?

I refuse to grow up. Sometimes I think I'm more childlike now then when I was younger, or at least when I was a teenager. There was so much pressure to be cool and disillusioned, you couldn't just be a kid. As I got older I rediscovered my childishness and have revelled in it.

Yes I love all things Disney, watch a lot of 3D animated films (which can be excused due to my occupation) and read Young Adult books. I refuse to let go of my imagination, my childlike wonder and my ridiculous eternal optimism. It's who I am.

Many YA readers I know are above the targeted age group, although the expected age is stretching further into the 20s and 30s these days. It has been speculated that because more people are living at home with their parents for longer, that they're not growing into fully-fledged adults until later in life. Perhaps that's why they cling to the books of their childhood? To that I say: phooey! I still read YA because of the story. That's what we're always told is important: story, story, story, and YA books are jam-packed full of story. They take risks, meld genres and push boundaries. Restrictions and rules are made to be broken in YA. They zip along at a break-neck speeds, are thrilling and unputdownable.

When I was growing up and pretending to be an adult, I knew that I had to move out of the children's section of the bookstore (this was before YA existed and books were classified as being for “older readers”). I tried—I really did—to find a genre that suited my tastes, but it always felt wrong. Making me pick a genre was like making me choose my favourite Disney princess, but I loved them all! Why couldn't I read a mix of drama, fantasy, adventure, sci-fi, romance and horror? Oh wait...I could. So I scuttled back to the one or two shelves for “older readers”, ducked my head and hoped I looked younger than my age—I didn't, my height always put a stop to that.

Occasionally I would branch out into other sections of the bookstore but my taste of adulthood left me feeling cold and distant. There was something missing; I was being held at arm's length, not being immersed in the stories like I wanted to. The novels didn't spark my imagination or make me grip the pages into the wee small hours of the morning, refusing to let go until I discovered what happened. They were, of course, well written and interesting, but I didn't love them. So I continued to return to the children's section until time passed and the shelves gradually expanded, turning into multiple bursting bookcases. These bookcases were labelled “Young Adult”. This once small section of the bookshop was now overwhelmingly popular and not just with kids that the YA age bracket officially targeted.

Yet there is still a stigma with YA that you are reading books for children. I've been known to pretend I'm shopping for my younger cousins when at the book store, my eyes darting this way and that—hoping no one suspects the truth. But I shouldn't be ashamed of loving good stories. And these are the stories for me. No matter what my age, I will always read and write YA fiction.

Who's with me?

2 comments:

  1. I agree - as long as it's a good story, who cares what arbitrary section of the bookshop it is in :)

    This actually reminded me of a C.S. Lewis quote: “A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest.” Wise words!

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  2. Very wise words indeed! I recently came across this quote from my favourite storyteller, Walt Disney:

    "Why do we have to grow up? I know more adults who have the children's approach to life ... They are not afraid to be delighted with simple pleasures, and they have a degree of contentment with what life has brought ..."

    So true!

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