When someone questioned whether I'd continue to read YA as an adult, I instantly remembered writing this nostalgic rant/reasoning, which I posted almost a year ago. My answer is a resounding yes. I intentionally wrote it after a slew of articles questioned the relevance of YA. This post - one I wrote at the very beginning of 2009 - explains exactly why it's relevant. I just thought I'd remind you all:
There's a certain type of magic about being a child. I'm 17 at the moment, so some would still consider that "a child". But I don't. It's smack dab in the middle. From about 13+ - the teen years (and even a bit before then) - you start learning and dealing with tougher issues. You lose some of that believe-anything fantastical kiddish factor, even though you haven't completely loosened your grip. You gain some things, too - it's the age where you start learning who you really are. And "growing up" is a tough process we all go through.
I remember, when I was about seven or eight years old, I was obsessed with butterflies. I wanted my own, as a pet; I wanted one to fly around my head all day, and perch on my hands when it needed a rest. It amazed me to learn that butterflies got their food from the flowers - nectar, I was told. I just thought the two liked each others company. But, as a curious child, I wanted to know what was IN nectar. What was so scrumptious about it, that the butterflies kept coming back for more? When I asked my mom this, she described it as "sugar water". So I got out a cup. I added the water. I poured in the sugar. And I took it outside, set it on a tree stump, and waited. I would sit outside for minutes upon minutes (and that's a lot, considering a child's attention span!) for days on end. Waiting for the butterflies. And for the special one that I knew would become my new pet.
Of course, when they didn't come, I'd drink the yummy sugar water for myself. But that's not the point. I kept believing that those butterflies would come, and I'd be the lucky gal to befriend them.
That youthful belief is why I think I'll always like children's books. And Young Adult. Sure, I know now that I won't be able to have a pet butterfly. But at what point does that change? When do you go from butterfly-loving, sugar-water-drinking child, to a teenager, figuring out your identity? I think this change is one of the hardest things to go through, and it's something you do unconsciously. Being a teen is a ton of guesswork; full of ups and downs and highs and lows. But I think, no matter what age you are, you don't forget your butterfly moments. Or the tough process of slowly letting go and growing up.
So, if you're still reading Children's/Young Adult at an age beyond when you're "supposed" to, and you're ever questioned on that (as a lot of articles have been bringing up lately), you should feel pity for the scoffers, instead of anger. Because, poor them - they've forgotten their butterflies.