Thursday 17 May 2012

Guest Post: Samantha Gray

Young Adult Novels for Kids and Parents

Oftentimes, as parents we don't really consider reading the same books that our youngsters are reading. These books are immature and will be uninteresting to us, we assume. Though today many young adult series have hit the mainstream, there remains a prejudice from some against young adult literature. I think there is a lot of merit in reading the same thing that your kid is reading. We have so much to gain from this experience that it might surprise you. By reading and becoming involved in some of the same aspects of life our youngsters are into we can gain a stronger understanding of our youth. As any educator can tell you, literature enables you to see things in life from different perspectives. By reading young adult novels, maybe we as adults can see things more clearly from our children's perspectives. As parents, educators, and role models, understanding that youth perspective can only make us better at what we need to do. These three young adult series and novels are necessities for both parents and youngsters.

This 13 book series is a wonderful addition to any bookshelf. Following the lives of three unique and ever-intriguing siblings, this series finds a way to hook any reader with its inventive narrative and bizarre happenings. The 13 books begin with the main characters at ages 14, 12, and one as a baby. Because the central characters are children many younger readers are immediately drawn to the storyline. Young readers are enamored by the strange and ever-disastrous (as the series' title would suggest) plot. While there is basic humor in the witty dialogue of the young characters and their unending misfortune, there are many aspects that can only be truly appreciated for their humor with a more adult understanding. The youngest sibling, Sunny Baudelaire, who is a baby at the start of the series, often speaks in one word sentences. With utterances like "Matahari", "edasurc", "cigam", and "Busheney", kids would likely pass this off as silly sounds whereas adults can begin to decode some of the authors underlying messages with these words. "Cigam" is "magic" backwards and "Busheney" is a play on the names Bush and Cheney. It is small, intelligent puzzles like this and a genuinely interesting and exciting plot that make these books perfect for both parent and youngster.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
For the more traditional literary parent, this book may be a bit of a stretch, but it shouldn't be overlooked. Recently made into a major motion picture directed by Martin Scorsese, others see the adult appeal this story has. The Invention of Hugo Cabret is 500 plus page graphic novel about the compelling life of a young boy and his inspirations in turn-of-the-century Paris.  The book is surrounded around the true story of French filmmaker Georges Melies and his collection of mechanical toys called automata. Though it takes some time for any reader new to graphic novels to adjust, the story and pictures of this novel are gripping and beautiful. The story is universally appealing and has a rich historical context. Following the tribulations of a 12 year old orphan, younger readers are compelled by the young boy's life and passion, while older readers may be more intrigued by the historical and cultural references throughout the novel. I suggest this book to any individual young or old—it's a wonderful read and a truly touching story.

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
Of course, The Hunger Games series is something we have all heard about by now. With a major (major) motion picture and tons of buzz surrounding the series to begin with, it's likely you've either already read or are completely sick of hearing about these books. However, (ha) this series is an extremely compelling and beautiful story for readers of almost any age. Because of the graphic and violent nature of the story, it is not suggested for young readers. Young adults and adults alike can gain a lot from this novel series. Not only is the story itself completely grabbing, but the overarching social and cultural commentary is very relevant and very adult. Despite all the hype that might be keeping people away from this collection, I highly recommend checking it out. The writing itself is strong, with a strong sense for dialogue and emotion and the characters are extraordinarily compelling. 

About the Author:
This guest contribution was submitted by Samantha Gray

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