It happens all the time. A library patron comes to the desk looking for a book they’ve heard people raving about, or one that has been adapted into a hit movie. They’re baffled, because they can’t find the book. Surely the library carries such a popular title. And we do, but they can’t find it because it’s shelved on the 2nd floor with the other juvenile books.
They’re taken aback. Sometimes even embarrassed. But we tell them not to worry. Lots of very literate, well-educated adults read young adult and juvenile fiction. After all, the Harry Potter books were written for children, and who doesn’t love those stories?
And that was just the beginning. Then came The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner, Twilight and the Divergent series and The Fault In Our Stars. All these YA and children’s books were made into hit movies. In fact, in recent years it seems like about half of the books adapted for movies are YA and children’s titles. Consider recent releases like Before I Fall and Wonder. Or the classic children’s book A Wrinkle In Time, slated for release next March.
The fact is, some of the most creative and exciting stories, particularly action-adventure stories, are written for young adults and children. The appeal of the genre has attracted a lot of established adult authors. Richard Paul Evans made his name writing heartwarming, inspiring fiction for adults: The Christmas Box, Timepiece, The Walk). Then he went in a completely different direction and started the hugely popular Michael Vey adventures series for middle school readers.
Another author who switched from adult to juvenile fiction is Rick Riordan. He wrote a series of adult mysteries in the early 2000’s. But he didn’t really get noticed until The Lightning Thief, the first title in his best-selling Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. James Patterson, known for his dark Alex Cross books and other thrillers, expanded his audience by writing the YA series Maximum Ride and Daniel X. Then he dived into children’s fiction with the Treasure Hunters and Middle School books. P.C. Cast wrote paranormal romances before she teamed up with her daughter Kristin to write the House of Night series. Other adult fiction authors who’ve dabbled in YA/juvenile fiction include fantasy author Neil Gaiman, mystery writers Carl Hiaasen and Kathy Reich and romance authors Sherrilyn Kenyon, Rachel Vincent and Gina Showalter.
And then there are the acclaimed literary authors who’ve written for children: Margaret Atwood, best known for The Handmaid’s Tale, also wrote Up the Tree and co-authored Princess Prunella and the Purple Peanut and several other whimsically entitled children’s stories. Acclaimed novelist Salman Rushdie took a break from his controversial adult books to pen Haroun and the Sea of Stories and Luka and the Fire of Life.
William Faulkner wrote The Wishing Tree. Other well-known literary authors who’ve written works for children include Aldoux Huxley, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf and Gertrude Stein. And finally there’s Ian Fleming. Known for his suave, sexy James Bond espionage novels, he also wrote the children’s classic Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Clearly, he had a fascination with cool cars!
The top YA authors at LCLS right now include those mentioned above, plus Sara Shepard (Pretty Little Liars and lots of other titles), Sarah J. Maas (Throne of Glass series), Cassandra Clare (Mortal Instruments series), John Green (Paper Towns, Turtles All the Way Down), C. C. Hunter (Shadow Falls series), Marissa Meyer (The Luna Chronicles) and Kiera Cass (Selection series).
Clearly, great storytelling has no age limit in its appeal. Adults are always welcome to come to the second floor to seek out their reading material. Don’t let the occasional chaos intimidate you. The staff there would be happy to help you explore the latest popular YA and children’s titles.