A guest blog from one of our most avid teen reviewers, Emily, aged 14. You can check out her blog here.
I suppose I never really got into reading, it was simply something that was always there for me to do. I’ve been lucky enough to grow up in a home where reading was encouraged, and in my primary school it was a big thing. I was rarely without a book in my school bag, supplied by a stay-at-home mum who was always at the library, and very proactive in finding books for me. Towards ks2, sites like Toppsta really helped, as well as my Mum following authors on Amazon and publishers on Facebook.
Percy Jackson (when I was in year 5) was probably the first time I really invested myself into a series, maybe just predated by Harry Potter. These were really strong fantasy/adventure type books that I really enjoyed and pretty much defined my book tastes from that point onward.
Although on the whole (in my experience) people my age don’t read as much as they should/could , there are some areas which are rising to be powerful players in the world of reading. Across the internet, established franchises like harry potter are proving to draw readers, perhaps not even of their target audience. I can see the huge amount of discussion around these books across the web, and the revenue, companies are making from merchandise is staggering, and evidence enough of their importance. Also making their way discreetly into teenagers lives are online reading and writing platforms such as Watt pad. Original works and fan fictions based on popular series get thousands of views, and while I’m aware phones are a huge draw away from reading, they also pull people back. After all, what could be better than having stories in your pocket!
I’ve already told you of my love for fantasy, but I am saddened to see that my beloved dragons and elves are becoming extinct. People seem to think that teenagers like to read about drama, romance and boys, which I simply don’t understand. I’m sure there must be a market for it, and thus readers for the numerous books out there, but it’s really not my thing. Similarly with books involving crime, drugs and the worse side of humanity. I don’t get the need to read about something so horrible, and something many of us sadly see in our own lives. I get the need to have evil in a book to make it more exciting, but basing book upon book around it doesn’t seem like an uplifting way to write. I love a book that allows me to escape this world completely. Whether it’s sailing with pirates in the middle of a distant ocean, or climbing the hilltops of some untamed forest, the thrills and spills of the genre are what really make it home. And besides, dragons and daredevils have got to be better than break ups and boyfriends, haven’t they?
Another thing I’d like to see more of is writing books for boys my age. Girls seem to be powering the revolution of reading, and while I love a bit of girl power in a male dominated world, leaving them behind isn’t the answer either. I think the pull of video games and anything else you care to blame their lack of love for literature, is far too strong and writing better books is the only way to turn it around. Take the punchy lines of the game and write it into a book. Take the outlandish characters and quick dialogue and put it into a book. Don’t dismiss pictures either. The guys I’ve talked to are really put off by tight lines of text and tiny writing, so I think a few well placed illustrations could really break into the male teenager’s mind. In fact, does this remind you of something? This brings me to another one of my favourite things in the teenage bookshelf. Graphic novels.
I really love graphic novels. They may be dismissed as comic books sometimes, but they get quite thick if they are an adaption of an existing book, take Alex rider as an example. I’ve really enjoyed getting my teeth into those, and even the independent ones have smooth, well thought out plots that keep you on your toes.
To close I would summarise that although teenagers don’t look like they're reading and we’ve certainly got a way to go, there are some hidden gems that really prove the art isn’t dead.
If you've enjoyed reading Emily's piece why not check out her blog.