Booking Through Thursday: Age-appropriate
Booking Through Thursday is a weekly meme in which we answer a question about books or reading.
This week we’re talking about age: Do you read books “meant” for other age groups? Adult books when you were a child; Young-Adult books now that you’re grown; Picture books just for kicks … You know … books not “meant” for you. Or do you pretty much stick to what’s written for people your age?
As a young reader I was always stretching. When I started school two other kids in my class could already read and I couldn’t. That was seriously annoying, was rectified by the very next day (true!) and I never looked back. My main goal that fall was to be able to read fast enough to read all the subtitles on TV before they disappeared and I managed to do that by Christmas. (Norway doesn’t dub TV or movies. I’m so glad. I detest dubbing.) By then I’d also read all the age-appropriate books in my school (tiny school) and was happily heading into books for older kids at the school and my uncles Hardy Boys, Biggles, Tom Swift, Boy scout stories, and so on. My grandmother also subscribed to some women’s magazines and they always had 2-3 novels going as series, I read those too. They quite often seemed to be set on sail ships, big mansions, castles and so on.
This was in the seventies and social realism was all the rage in Norwegian children’s literature, and apparently also among Norwegian librarians, the ones I met anyway. I was never a social realism reader and because of that I became very wary of adults telling me what a good book was. If the books were to be about stuff that could happen they should at least be adventuresome and not about something that was likely to happen, what was the fun in that. And books for older kids were usually a lot more exciting. So, as I mentioned, I was always stretching.
Now it’s the other way around. I still don’t read age-appropriately, but now it’s because I read stuff that’s too “young” for me. There’s a lot of good YA books out there, and I enjoy reading them. There’s also a lot of stuff that’s not-so-good, and the good thing about having read a lot is that I can usually spot those fairly quickly and avoid them. I don’t read many children’s books, but it happens.
I think the most important thing for me is that reading fiction is something I do for fun, however useful it might turn out to be at times. If I find a book that I think looks interesting I never consider what age group it’s intended for.
Reading only what was intended for “my group” would probably have me tearing my hair out in a very short time. To only read books intended for mid-forties lesbians of the northern European persuasion….imagine that…..