Maybe my social circle is extra nerdy, but I swear no Facebook or Twitter post gets more responses than one asking for book recommendations. And it makes sense. I mean, who doesn't love giving book recommendations? Passing on a book I loved to another person is one of my favorite things in the world. And that goes double when I'm passing it on to my children. When they were little, that meant reading them all my favorite childhood storybooks, Blueberries for Sal, A is for Annabelle, Ferdinand the Bull, so much Dr. Seus... That was a good time. The early reader stage was less fun for me. My kids weren't really into the books aimed at that reading level. Sure, they went through a bit of a Magic Treehouse phase but I was a Boxcar Children kid.
When they started getting hooked on YA it was exciting to see them excited for reading, but that category has grown and changed since I was a kid—or at least it seems to have. There are so many new YA series and I honestly had a hard time figuring out which of the books I read as a "young adult" fit that category. All I could think of was The Babysitter's Club (which my youngest has read in graphic novel form), and Nancy Drew. I loved Nancy Drew but the editions I read were of my mother's generation and they failed to catch my kids' attention (the new ones are an abomination, sorry not sorry). After that, I came up blank.
Enter Google! A quick google search for older YA came up with many more familiar titles than I was expecting. A large chunk of them are things I read in school (Tuck Everlasting, To Kill a Mockingbird). Not to say those books weren't good, but I often found the over-examination and slow pace of reading in along with the class spoiled the enjoyment of books for me. In any case, most of those didn't make it to my adult bookshelf.
Three books the internet seems to deem YA have stood out as ones that really stuck with me (literally and figuratively) are Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry, The Giver, and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I've already shared the first two with my kids. The Giver, in particular, went over quite well. I hope one day they pick up A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I loved that book. Some people are on the fence as to whether Ender's Game is YA. If it counts, it certainly gets a spot in my top YA list.
But who even cares about these labels, my kids are old enough to dip into adult books! How cool is that? There are so many books I can pass along. I know they won't love all the books I loved. Neither of them are as voracious readers as I was, so they probably won't read most of them. And I know there are new books they will discover that I have never read. But hot damn, I get a kick out of sharing books that come not only from hazy childhood memories but also from more recent reads. Right now my oldest is reading Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson, and that's so cool to me, as is my youngest starting The Restaurant at the End of the Universe after enjoying The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
The best part is that this leg of the book-sharing journey is both new and never-ending. The number of books appropriate for them will only grow over time and the older they get the more books they'll be able to pass back to me. It's like the great circle of life... of books. And it's excellent.
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