More teens are reading, but is it time well spent?

Teachers, librarians and others say that teen-friendly books, such as the “Harry Potter,” “Twilight” and “Hunger Games” series, have helped make reading popular again. The most popular genre among teens continues to be supernatural/paranormal fiction. However, some parents suggest that today’s young-adult books contain questionable content and are too superficial.

Gillian Dawson, teen services librarian at the Brown County Library, couldn’t be more thrilled. She’s been immersed in the Young Adult (YA) world for six years and has taken note of the changing trends.

“These titles inspired many other authors and kicked-off trends of fantasy, vampires, and dystopian series, to the point that shelves of many YA areas of bookstores have a special section.”

What’s hot right now? According to Dawson, supernatural/paranormal fiction “continues to be huge.” But where vampires, werewolves and faeries have dominated, they’ve now got company — mermaids, angels, demons and ghosts. Teens are still searching out post-apocalyptic or dystopian novels, and Dawson credits that to successful series like Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games.

Science fiction is also buzzworthy, as is realistic fiction that “tends to be fairly gritty,” says Dawson, covering topics such as bullying or suicide.

Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, on the other hand, accomplishes the same feat of showing tweens and teens that they are not alone in their problems, but in a lighthearted and humorous way.

Despite their varied genres, trendy teen books seem to have common denominators: Elements of romance, character-driven stories and a world that’s easy to escape into. Those, in short, are three reasons 14-year-old Cierra Windey’s library card is in constant use.

Windey, a high school student at Notre Dame Academy, estimates she reads about 75 books each year. She claims Fantasy as her favorite genre, touting books by authors such as Tamora Pierce, Margaret Peterson Haddix, Sarah Dessen, Lauren Oliver, and Alyson Nöel as her favorites. While her teachers may be excited about her literary consumption, her parents have been a little wary.

Sharon Windey, Cierra’s mom, holds an overall opinion about teen books today that many are “superficial, lacking moral values…and very sexually-oriented.” To combat the edgier stuff, Sharon checks out books ahead of time, and she has forbidden her daughter to read certain things in the past. 

Continue Reading: Green Bay Press-Gazette (Wis.)

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