teen reading and sales of YA fiction

This is an interesting read (via Meanjin, via Alien Onions) about teenagers, reading and how sales are rocketing on the back of HP and Twilight.

'There are several reasons why so many teenagers are passionate readers. A book is a pathway inside another person’s head. When you are young, you have few deep relationships, maybe no real emotional connections with others at all. You connect in the text. At that age, it is a revelation to see an author has the same dreams and insecurities as you do. Plus, there is a confidence and conviction to a fiction narrative’s voice. You are eager for someone to look up to, but certainly not your parents, not your teachers. A novel is an opportunity to really listen to another human being.'

Absolutely! Except for the relationships part, I think the emotional connections that most teenagers feel are as intense as at any other age, perhaps there are just more of them. Think of those extended intense phone conversations when you were a teen. HOURS I spent on the phone to my best friend. Back in the day of landlines, when you had to secrete yourself away from snooping parents, as far as the cord would stretch anyway. And the all consuming intensity of first love; now there's a powerful emotional connection if ever there was one!

I love the idea of 'you connect in the text.' What a thrill it is to introduce a new reader to an old favourite and have them fall in love with it, just as you did. That spark of connection or engagement is so precious.

And: 'A book is an opportunity to get “off the grid.”' Well, yes, as much as I love the grid, reading is an escape, always has been. School is off-grid for most teens too, I guess, depending on the restrictions that are in place. It is lovely though when you offer teenagers a chance to silently read how many of them are excited and glad to escape into a book.

In fact, I might get off grid and go finish my fairy book now!

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