Not just for kids

I heard children's and young adult book expert Anita Silvey speak (a few years ago, now) and she pointed out that one thing Harry Potter did for the publishing world was validate, or at least reinvigorate the teen market. Many publishing houses invested more in publishing literature for teens. Authors who write primarily for adults (James Patterson, Alice Hoffman, Carl Hiaasen, Isabel Allende - to name a few) began writing for the teen market, and more new authors were able to get into the market. Teens, like everyone else, have a wide range of interests, and I'm so happy to see the range of selection for teens.

Also, teen protagonists started showing up in adult literature more frequently. (I don't remember her examples, but) In my own reading I've definitely noticed the characters in Jodi Piccoult and Stephen King's novels, for example. I think this trend definitely helps teens make the transition to the adult market, and I think it helps adults feel not-so-oogie about reading books published for teens. This is all good.

Books published for teens that I think should be on every adult's list

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
An Indian boy from the res goes to the white school in town. This is one of those books that will make you laugh out loud and break your heart. The life on the reservation - the extreme poverty and accompanying mentality - it not glorified or put down. It just is. Same goes for the school he attends. It just is. And this just is a must-read.

The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak
Death himself narrates this hauntingly tender Holocaust story about a Jewish orphan named Leisel. And if you think you've read enough Holocaust stories...do yourself a favor and read one more.

Life As We Knew It, by Susan Pfeffer
When a meteor hits the moon, the climate on earth changes radically and threatens the earth's survival. I'm not a scientist, but she makes this seem like such a real possibility that when I finished the book I called my mother...you know...just to check in.

Books published for teens that I would strongly encourage adults to read

An Abundance of Katherines, by John Green (or, anything of his. he's awesome).
I admit that I originally picked this one up simply for the title. This is a coming-into-your-own story about Colin. Colin has had 19 relationships -- the girls have all been named Katherine, and they've all dumped him. Now he's on a road trip to prove his Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability (he's a math nerd) in the hopes that he can predict the outcome of future relationships for himself and dumpees everywhere.

Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer
You know...the vampire love story. Now, I'm not a vampire person, but this is a very good read. And, it's everywhere. Adults are reading it, and I would encourage you to do the same. It will explain all the references to Edward Cullen you've been hearing.

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