After reading and reviewing Wish I Might and complaining about characters in books who read up, I got to thinking about YA characters who are also YA readers.
Maybe I just notice this more because I'm a librarian and an avid reader, but I love when a character in a book is a big reader. But it annoys me when I read YA (or children's books) and the avid reader character talks about their love of reading but then only goes on to mention classics and the typical required reading at school. Why can't these YA characters who are also readers mention YA books?
I fight very hard for YA literature. I fight with Lexile reading levels all the time. I fight to have teens read what they want, no matter what it is and who cares if it's a classic literary novel. Who cares if it's below your reading level, if you enjoy it, read it. As someone who sees how amazing YA lit is, it can be very frustrating to come across a character in a book who is a teen and also a reader, but then only reads "high literature and high quality books"-you know, classics, New York Times bestselling adult fiction, and Oprah's book club picks. (gag!) It just seems so wrong to me to have a book written for YA and in the YA section, but the characters are "above" YA reading. It's like the YA genre can't support YA in it's own books and say "hey, you're a teen and you can read YA." Instead, it makes me think, "I'm reading this YA book, but really I should be reading more literary and high quality-this book is just fluff. I mean the teen readers in this book are reading such high literary novels that I've never even read!"
Mr. GreenBeanSexyMan pointed out that maybe it's a copyright thing and you can't mention certain books, so that's why classics are always mentioned. Or maybe authors don't want to or can't promote a book in their book that's not by their publisher. Or maybe they don't want to play favorites among authors. Or maybe classics are more generally recognized. Maybe if a current book is mentioned it could date the book (although there are many books that mention pop culture and technology that can easily date a book the same way). (If there are any authors out there who can chime in as to why it's always classics mentioned, please let me know!
Maybe I just read too much into it, but does this bother anyone else? Why does Bella only read classics? Why does Lennie in The Sky is Everywhere who says she's a "road reader" and reads while taking walks down her street only read Wuthering Heights? Why does Willa's Pix list in The Wedding Planner's Daughter series, which is targeted for ages 8-12 continuously feature classic authors way above tween level like Hemingway, Frost, and Dickens?
So can you think of any character in YA (or in a children's book) that is an avid reader or mentions reading and is reading something more contemporary and actually from YA fiction? There's When You Reach Me, which has a great character tie-in with A Wrinkle in Time, although some might say that's a classic. And there's Into the Wild Nerd Yonder which features avid reader (and audiobook reader even!) Jessie who reads Elsewhere, Life As We Knew It, Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging and a short story by Margo Lanagan. (And yes, author Julie Halpern is a librarian, so maybe that's why she featured more current books-she's passionate about YA lit from a librarian point of view as well as an author). My fabulous librarian friend Drea also mentioned that Tweetheart has a character who mentions a current YA novel-yay!
More from Twitter: Dash and Lily's Book of Dares mentions The Strand and Fat Hoochie Prom Queen, Terri Clark's Sleepless mentions several YA authors
Can you think of anything else? And I am overreacting to the character readers or does anyone else notice this too?
And FYI-I don't mind teens who read up and read adult books and read classics, etc. I just think it's odd that in the YA genre, there's not a lot of YA character readers who actually read YA fiction. You would think they would because obviously the person reading the book is reading YA, so why not the character too?