Hillary in the YA section of her local library.

When I was in sixth grade, my teacher told me during independent reading time that the book I was reading was too easy for me, and I should choose something else. Sure, I was capable of reading a more difficult book, but I was enjoying the story. I was recently reminded of this while choosing to re-read some of my favorite young adult fiction books, despite the fact that I’m in my thirties. I realized that reading has no (age) limits.

Think back to your childhood or adolescence – what books were your favorites or still hold meaning in your life? As an avid reader, I devoured a new book nearly every day throughout my youth and I can think of many books that influenced me. Some YA (young adult) Fiction books especially stand out: 

  • Walk Two Moons 
  • Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret
  • Harry Potter 
  • Little Women
  • Anne of Green Gables
  • Lord of the Flies
  • Ella Enchanted
  • Holes
  • The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

YA books are typically written for an audience of 12-20 year olds. But reading has no limits. There is no shame in reading YA fiction as a full-grown adult. As I have revisited some of my favorite YA books in the past few months, my experience is best summed up in this quote:

“There’s always another story. When you read a book again and let your imagination take over, it can take you to new stories, so it’s like a book inside the book!”

― Kate Westerlund, If You Wish 

Reading YA as an adult, a decade or two after I originally read the books, opened up new meaning in the stories. I could appreciate the emotions, word choices, and characters a little differently than I did as a teenager. When I re-read Walk Two Moons last year, I remembered that I had loved that book so much as a teen that I planned to name a future child after the main character, Salamanca. Re-reading Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret made me think about how I am raising my daughter (who I did not end up naming Salamanca). Anne of Green Gables came to life in a different way, as I read through the lens of my career as a teacher. These books aren’t “too easy” or “too childish” to read well past young adulthood. Revisiting books after years apart can truly reveal a new story and new meaning. 

So next time you are browsing the library for your next book, don’t be afraid to wander down the YA aisle, no matter your age. My local library even has a book club called “Not So Young Adult Fiction” – so you know you are in good company with other “grown up” YA readers.

-Hillary Hanel Rose
Education Advisor
Girl Museum Inc.

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