Are Young Adults Novels Fake?

Written By: Tania Randazzo

What do you think of when you hear classic novels? Books like Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Lord of the Flies, and To Kill a MockingbirdThese are many books that most students have had to read in high school and that have been intertwined within the English curriculum for years. As a middle and high school student, I remember reading the books I was assigned in English class and thinking that they were the most boring things ever and it made me hate reading. Once I got older and began exploring the library and different books, I realized just how much I love to read.

I know more people who hate reading then people who enjoy it. I know even less people who read for pleasure. I was one of those people. It was only until I began reading different books where I started realizing that I did like to read, I just wasn’t reading the right novels. The world of the Young Adult genre completely changed my perspective of reading.

In an article written by Susan P. Santolini titled Promoting Young Adult Literature: The Other “Real” Literature, Santolini states, “Young adult literature can be a vehicle that allows teachers to present the same literary elements found in the classics while engaging adolescents in stimulating classroom discussions and assignments. Unlike literature, it can foster a desire to read.”

I have always believed that most people would like to read if they found the correct books. Although classic books are classics for a reason, there is a only a certain and small amount of people that enjoy them. Therefore, to make those the only books pushed in a classroom setting is not a good way to promote reading. By allowing different genres into the classroom, it can allow for students to open up their mind and try to find different books that pique their interest and increase their want to read.

I remember having an assignment in my middle school English class where we had to go to to the library, pick out one book, and write a review about it. Dread. That is what I remember feeling in my stomach when I thought about having to read one of the books at school. I went to the library and stumbled upon the young adult section and I picked out a book. I still remember the title, Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins. I began reading the book for the class and I was hooked. I was reading it at any possible free-time I had and once I finished it, I went back to the library to immediately check out the second book. And then the third one. What once began as a forced project for class, opened up me up to this whole other world. The world of books.

Not only was the book fun, entertaining, and easy to understand but it was also teaching me things about myself and about my life. As Santolini states in her article, “Good-quality novels written for teenagers contain the elements of literature found in the classics: character and characterization, setting, conflict, theme, point-of-view, plot, style, crisis, climax, foreshadowing, flashbacks, figurative language, and so forth.”

If young adult novels are seen as holding some of the major qualities of the classics, then why shouldn’t they be encouraged in the classroom? Why are they considered not real novels or real literature? If I had been introduced to these kinds of novels when I was younger, I would have enjoyed overall reading so much more. If it wasn’t for the fact that I managed to stumble across Hex Hall I wonder if I would still be under the impression that I did not like to read.

If these kinds of novels had more of an importance, or even an introduction in high school classrooms, I believe the amount of students that would read for pleasure would be drastically higher. Young adult novels should not be considered fake novels or a separate entity from real and classic novels but instead, but instead be put out as options for all students to read. Books are an amazing and powerful tool that everyone should have the pleasure of experiencing. Overall, if you consider yourself a non-reader, I urge you to explore your local library and try books that sound somewhat interesting to you. I specifically, urge in the young adult section. If you are a teacher, I also strongly urge you to read some of these books and promote them to your students and just see if this is something your students could be interested in.

Santoli, Susan P., and Mary Elaine Wagner. “Promoting Young Adult Literature: The Other ‘Real’ Literature.” American Secondary Education, vol. 33, no. 1, 2004, pp. 65–75. JSTOR, Accessed 25 Sept. 2023.