No, You're Not Too Old To Read That Book

Pick up that middle grade or young adult series that caught your eye.
too old to read young adult books
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Too often on the internet, I see people asking questions like “Am I too old to be reading Harry Potter?” “Is 22 too old to read The Hunger Games?” or other similar questions involving other popular middle grade and young adult series like “Twilight” or “Divergent.” The answer is always, and will always be no. You are not too old to read a book that sounds exciting or intriguing to you. 

This isn’t because these series are wildly popular; this holds true for any book that you want to read that is categorized as children’s or young adult literature. You’re not too old. You will never be too old. And here’s why:

Read What You Love

For as much as reading teaches us about ourselves, the world, and other people’s perspectives, it is important to remember that reading fiction as a hobby is ultimately about pleasure and entertainment. Even when books are sad or make us angry at certain characters, we continue to read for the love of the story and the impact these stories have on us is ultimately a positive one. 

This emotional relationship with the stories we enjoy is why it is so important to read what you love. If you shut yourself off from reading a book because you are worried you’re “too old” to read it, you may miss out on a beautiful experience with a story that will live in your heart forever.

Too often, people get influenced by lists of “books you should read before you turn X years old” or “books that CEOs read,” but if you try to read something that just doesn’t appeal to you or interest you, you’re going to struggle to get through the reading and walk away from the experience thinking that you just dislike reading altogether. 

By reading whatever catches your attention, you’re much more likely to form a good relationship with books. They will not be seen as boring, dense, or difficult, but as the entertaining escapes, they were meant to be!

Why Children's and Young Adult Literature Appeals to Adults

Some of my favorite books are young adult novels that I read as an adult and I am not alone in this. There are many other adults who largely read young adult literature and actively enthuse and talk about it openly. This can be baffling to others who don’t see the appeal. Why would we choose to read books about people who are so unlike us in age? The appeal of young adult books sometimes doesn’t even make sense to the people who read them!

Here are some of the reasons why books for young adults have such a big draw for people are who are much older than the protagonists:

1. Readers Have Nostalgia for Teenage Years and Young Adulthood 

Characters often remind readers of themselves as teens and that feeling of nostalgia is a big draw for some readers. They can relive teenage feelings that can be hard to access as an adult, like the thrill of first love, or the confusing mix of emotions that comes with straddling the line between childhood and adulthood. The stories can also serve as wish fulfillment for things readers wish had happened in their teenage years, such as having grand adventures with their friends. 

Whatever the case, reminiscing on the emotional and powerful years of high school and the university is a huge reason why adults choose to read books with protagonists of these ages. 

2. Teen Novels Usually Have Happy Endings 

Though there are some exceptions, books are written for young adults often have storylines that end well, or at least relatively cleanly. Readers can usually rest assured that though the characters they're forming a bond with may go through hardships and change as people, they will end up alright. This can help them relax when problems in the story arise and this allows these books to be read even during stressful times in real life. 

Books written for adults can sometimes end sadly for the sake of realism because, in real life, not everything turns out okay in the end. This can mean that these books become difficult to read when the reader has a lot of things going on in their life. They add a mental load that the reader feels they can’t carry until their real-life stress goes away. 

The knowledge that everything will end well can be a comfort to readers, and allow them to safely escape into these books for stress relief, even when the stakes of the story are high.

3. Young Adult Novels Typically Have "Clean" Romances

Novels written for teens and young adults may have romance plots, but readers who are uncomfortable reading anything risqué can rest assured that most books keep things tame and chaste. Though there is nothing inherently wrong with explicit content in books, some readers have expressed discomfort at reading these scenes. These scenes often unexpectedly pepper books written for adults, even those that aren't of the romance genre, so young adult novels may seem like a much safer choice for avoiding sexual content. 

Oftentimes people avoid the romance genre altogether because of their unwillingness to read intimate scenes, even though they like the idea of romance novels. Young adult romance novels allow readers to indulge in the emotions and drama of romance without worrying that they’ll be put in an uncomfortable situation of having to skip pages and risk missing important details. 

4. New Young Adult Books Have Diverse Characters

In recent years, there has been a big push in publishing, particularly in children's and teen literature publishing, for #OwnVoices novels. These are novels with characters belonging to marginalized groups written by authors that belong to those same groups. This means that there books with protagonists who are Black, disabled, Asian, LGBTQIA+, and more.

This is not only really interesting for teens who see themselves in these characters, but for adults as well. Many readers grew up never reading about characters that reflected their life experiences and reading stories about teens that reflect their own lives feels like caring for their inner child. 

5. These Books Are Wildly Popular

One of the most widely read and popular book series is about teenagers. "Harry Potter," "Twilight," "The Hunger Games," and others were turned into film series and have wide cultural significance. Clearly, these books have a more universal appeal, and adults shouldn't be barred from reading what's popular just because the characters are younger than them. 

6. Teen Drama is Easier to Deal With

Though as a teenager, the daily dramas of high school felt huge and insurmountable, as adults, these problems can feel a little silly and easy to resolve. Adult drama can be much more nuanced and difficult. 

For readers needing a break from the serious plot points of adult literature like abuse, divorce, and death, teen school drama can feel more comfortable. These books allow readers to indluge in dramatic tales while still offering an escape from the more harsh realities of life. 

7. Reading About Teens Dealing with Real Issues Can Heal

Not all teen books just deal with high school dramatics and breakups. There are a lot of young adult books that do deal with grief, abuse, sexual harassment, and other sensitive issues. For adults who had these things happen in their teen years, these books can help heal their inner child who may still be hurting.

Even adults who are presently dealing with real-world issues can find comfort in the journeys characters take to come back from traumatic experiences. Even if the books don't always provide a blueprint for healing, they can show readers of all ages that healing is possible. 

8. Middle Grade and Young Adult Books Can Be Easier to Read

There's a reason I often recommend that people who haven't read a book in a long time start with a middle grade or young adult novel: the sentence structure and vocabulary are often much simpler. Writers of middle grade and teen books take great care to make sure that kids can understand and enjoy their novels, even if they sometimes use challenging words, context clues are often there in ways they might not be in adult literature.

For people who are trying to start reading (again or for the first time), they can be a great way to ease into the process while feeling supported. Furthermore, even people who read all the time, like me, sometimes need a break from the complexity and vocabulary of some adult literature. I know I personally like to pick up a cozy teen novel after reading something difficult or dense. 

9. Readers Can Connect Across Age Gaps

One of my favorite things about reading children's literature is that I can discuss it with my sister who is more than 10 years my junior. With such a large age difference, it can be difficult to find ways to connect with each other. Luckily, I can talk to her about books we've both read, and we can swap recommendations. Plus, allowing her to recommend books to me, an adult, really boosts her confidence!

Parents, siblings, or anyone who cares about children and teens can use books as a way to connect and communicate with the kids in their lives. Reading a book together and talking about it can be a great way to get pre-teens and teenagers to open up to their family, especially at an age when they're starting to close themselves off.

No matter the reasoning behind your draw to children's and young adult literature, you should not feel ashamed of reading what calls to you. After all, as the great children's author C.S. Lewis said, “A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest.”

If you're looking for book recommendations, check out my lists of upcoming young adult romance novels, underrated young adult novels, and most anticipated 2021 releases!

Stevie is a writer who perpetually has a coffee in her hand and a cat on her lap. Her other hobbies include reading and playing video games.

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