Monday, September 05, 2005

Teen Titles

Should teen titles be classified as a children's books rather than adult books? This has always been an issue for discussion. Does a teenager consider himself an adult? There's no definite answer but booksellers have found that teen readers who are 13 to 14 years of age are quite happy to browse through the teen shelves in the Children Section. Teenagers who are 15 or older will be most embarrassed to be 'caught' in the Children Section!

What is considered a good read for teenagers? It is often difficult to "pigeonhole" what makes a good read cos' teenagers have very broad tastes. From the 'little survey' I did with my nephews and nieces and my friends' nephews and nieces who are teenagers, their interest ranges from Dan Brown to Gossip Girls, fantasy to realistic fiction, fiction to non-fiction and horrifying discoveries that some typical Singapore teenagers read only 'exam worthy' books !!

Teen titles are often classified based on the age of the protagonist and the subject matter. Very often, the protaganist must be one that a teen can relate to i.e. a teenager. The subject matter must be seen as relevant to a teenager. Issues and angst common to teens. Fantasy fictions that cater to their imaginative minds. Teens are maturing so fast nowadays that the simple assumption described above are often irrelevant. Thus, many writers of teen books are putting in contents that crossover to the adult world.

Recently, some teen books are beginning to appeal to adult readers. These "crossover" books are currently rare and few in the market. Some crossover titles are Meg Rosoff's How I Live Now (Puffin), Jennifer Donnelly's A Gathering Light (Bloomsbury) and Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night (Doubleday).

According to Becky Stradwick, children buyer for Borders UK, on possible crossover titles that are on the way, "Books such as Elsewhere, Tamar and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas all deal with complex adult themes and deserves to reach a wider audience." (Stradwick, Becky. "Action for the autumn." The Bookseller August 2005: 28.)

Elsewhere (Hardcover)by Gabrielle Zevin
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (September, 2005)
ISBN: 0374320918

Tamar by Mal Peet
Publisher: Walker Books, Limited (October 2005)
ISBN: 0-7445-6570-7

Boy in the Stripped Pyjamas by John Boyne
Publisher: Random House Children's Books (February 2006)
ISBN: 0-385-60940-X

1 comment:

datedue said...

I too find the classification of teen materials to be a very grey area. Personally, I am more inclined to put teen materials in the adults section. I find the entire Y collection to be rather redundant and unwieldy (although I do feel that having a Y-SPACE is a very good idea in libraries, for developing a community where teenageers can feel at home).

My reservations lie with distinguishing a Y collection, because teenagers' reading tastes vary from person to person. And young people should also be given that extra push and confidence to explore the higher-level materials meant for adults, rather than be stuck in a perpetual teenage angsty world.

Moreover, most of the time, our encounters with books are not always focused; rather, it is often a result of serendipity (which, to me, is by far one of the best ways to discover a book) from browsing of shelves. The encounters teenagers get from seeing what adults read might also instill in them the curiosity to explore materials that they would not otherwise find on the Y collection shelves.