Monday, January 9, 2012

From Tween to Teen

My sister Ava is eleven (and a half! she would want me to be clear about that) and a big reader. I love middle grade and waited many years for her to be old enough so that we could share the same books, which has been a major bonding thing for us. For Christmas, I got her an assortment of new middle grade titles, but when I arrived at my dad's house, I found her and her best friend Olivia reading...

I soon discovered she had also read the copy of The Hunger Games that I lent to my dad, which my stepmother was NONE TOO PLEASED ABOUT when she found out about all the child murder and whatnot. Ava later confessed to me that she had, in fact, read the entire trilogy behind her parents' backs.

I was not prepared for this. Ava has retained her innocence to a much greater degree than many of her peers because of her parents' (over)protectiveness (unlike me, who started reading Christopher Pike's teens-have-sex-and-murder-each-other books at an outrageously inappropriate age), so I was thinking her foray into the YA world would still be a couple of years down the road.

I sat Ava and Olivia down to talk about their transition from middle grade to young adult.

Cristin: Did you know Matched was a young adult book when you picked it up?

Olivia: No, I just thought it looked interesting.

Ava: I knew, but I didn't really acknowledge it.

Cristin: To yourself or to your parents?

Ava: Both.

Cristin: Did you ever feel like you couldn't identify with the characters because they were significantly older than you?

Ava and Olivia: No.

Cristin: Can you elaborate?

Ava and Olivia: Not really.

Cristin: Do you prefer books about characters your age or older?

Olivia: Either. It just depends on the story for me.

Ava: I like both. It's really cool to read a book where someone is my age and is doing lots of cool stuff, but it's also cool to read a book where someone is older and I know that someday I'll be doing the same kind of stuff they are.

Cristin: Have you ever read a book where you felt like you were in over your head?

Ava: Fins Are Forever and Forgive My Fins [by Tera Lynn Childs]. They say some bad words and stuff, which caught me off guard, but I just skipped over them.

Cristin: How do you think you would react if you ever read a book that you thought was too adult for you?

Olivia: That would make me uncomfortable, so I'd probably put the book down.

Ava: I would just skip over the parts that were too much for me.

Cristin: So you don't think you need your parents to approve reading material for you?

Ava: No, I think we know what we're ready for and what we aren't. Like, my mom doesn't think I'm old enough to read The Hunger Games, but I did anyway and it wasn't too grown-up for me. There was some sad stuff and some scary stuff, but I know it's all made-up, and I thought it was really good. I hate that we never found out the names of Katniss' kids, though!

Cristin: When you go to the bookstore, where do you look for books?

Ava: The young adult section.

Olivia: I start in the kids' section, but I usually end up going into the young adult section too.

Cristin: Do you ever go anywhere else? Like into the adult books?

Ava and Olivia: NO!

In summary: kids know what they can handle, and adult books are boring. I COMPLETELY AGREE.

Have you found a teen to interview for Join The Mission yet? Corner a relative, stalk the stacks at your local library, whatever it takes! When you post your interview, come back and tell us about it so that we can post a link to your blog in our Join The Mission round-up at the end of the month.


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