Monday, September 27, 2010

Does Reading Children's Books Affect Your Grown-Up Reading?

In the past couple of months, I've been easing up on reading MG and YA (since my 100 book challenge is going well) and reading more adult fiction.

Maybe I've made some poor choices (bestseller lists and the New section at the library?), but I've found it hard to finish a lot of the adult fiction I've picked up. Either it seemed unbelievable or I just didn't care enough about the characters. It makes me wonder if reading mostly MG and YA has affected my reading preferences or if the writing in children's books is different in some way that appeals to me. Or maybe it's just because they're shorter (ha!).

I recently read Fact of Life #31 by Denise Vega and really enjoyed it. It wasn't a particularly fast-paced story (which some of you know I tend to prefer), but I liked the emotional issues and internal struggles faced by the main character. Maybe that's what appeals to me in children's books? BTW, my teenage daughter began reading the same book and gave up on it early, saying she didn't like it at all. But I could see how she wouldn't relate to or connect with the main character at the beginning of the story, or her situation working in a midwifery. It all comes back to that connection, doesn't it?

P.S. Over at MiG Writers, I recently blogged about how I schedule my writing time, in case you're interested.


  1. I know that I never could get into adult reading; so I actually didn't read a lot. Once I found Harry Potter I started reading a lot more. Now, there are a few adult books that I want to read, but I'm almost worried that I won't be able to get into them.

    I wouldn't say it's cause YA is shorter because a lot of YA books aren't. I don't know what it is, but adult books are just ... stuffier, if that makes sense -- I think they've almost lost the magic or something of youth.

  2. I have a hard time getting through adult stuff too. Mainly because I got used to the fast pacing of kid lit. So many adult books take a really long time to get to the point. But I also don't have the patience because there are great kid lit stuff I want to read, or I could be writing.

  3. For me, kid lit and adult lit are two different things. One doesn't effect the other. As for adult books, I rarely read anything on the bestseller list--all it means is it sold a lot of money. That doesn't equate to well-written, not to me. I do love adult books, but tend to go for under-the-radar gems when I can find them (Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping). I also like to read classics--Cather, Fitzgerald, Woolf.

  4. I read MG, YA, and adult, and there are good titles and bad titles to be found in all genres and age groups. But I think what sets MG and YA apart from adult is that it has to be better to capture the attention of today's kids. There seems to be less and less incentive or reward for kids to read. Kids today, mine included, are much more likely to spend their free time on facebook or instant messaging or online games etc... (not to mention TV and video games.) Their worlds are all about fast pace. If a book doesn't grab them from the first sentence, they may not have the patience or the interest to give it a chance. They are much less forgiving than adults. Some of the best books I've read have been MG and YA. Admittedly, as a children's author, I may have more interest than many in reading kids' books, but I think there are a lot out there that kids and adults alike can enjoy!

    On a side note, Andrea, I stumbled on your blog because I'm thinking of starting one and the title I had in mind is yours. Now I've been following for a week or so, and have read through some of the archives, and I just wanted to say, I really like your blog - both the content and the presentation. Keep up the great work. I'll be looking forward to your posts!

  5. I like both but find I prefer the grown-up books (it sounds funny to say adult books). The use of language and the plot and character complexities are better. There are some great MG and YA books that are able to do it but it’s rare.

    The books coming out today are so much better than when I was a kid.

  6. I'm another MG/YA reader. Adult books TELL so much, by comparison. I'll read fast-moving ones like MH Clark and Grisham, but that's reading for story rather than language. I like MG/YA because I want commercial and literary all in one book and that's where I'm most likely to get it.

  7. Honestly Andrea I don't really like reading adult books. Even before I started writing exclusively for teens and kids and I didn't read them.

    I do like adult short story collections and fantasies, thrillers and mysteries. But regular adult non-genre fiction seems to read too slow for me.

    Or maybe I just have a kid reading mind. But it's probably because I learn so much more reading MG/YA and can apply it to my writing.

    Off to check out your guest post. :]

  8. Wow - this is an interesting discussion. Quinn, I agree that there's something different about kids books, less stuffy, or maybe it's the faster pace that Laura, Susanna and Karen mentioned.

    Marcia, I find there's a lot more telling in adult books too, and it was starting to annoy me, after spending so much time being careful to show emotions, etc. through action in my own writing.

    Andrea V. and Susanna, there are "grown up" books that I enjoy reading too. But I think that being so immersed in reading and writing for children has made me fussier about the kinds of adult books I read.

    Susanna, thank you for your kind words about my blog! I often spend a good chunk of thinking about what I want to say, so it's nice to hear it's interesting or useful.

    By the way, Karen, MiG Writers is my critique group and I post there on Fridays (I'm not too regular about that though).


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