Because youth have been labeled “gadget-obsessed social media addicts”, one of the biggest misconceptions about the so-called millennial generation is that we don’t like to read. Kids nowadays are reading more than ever, if the loads of Children’s and YA (Young Adult) books that crowd the bookstores are any indication of it, especially the endless copies of the legendary Harry Potter Series.
Ever since the first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, was released as a children’s book in 1997, kids, teenagers, and adults alike all devoured the stories of The Boy Who Lived, a young British orphan who was whisked into the Wizarding World full of wonder and magic, predestined to save it from evil dictators and destruction. While J.K. Rowling is best credited as creating an extensive and detailed world in which schools for magic exist, I think she should also be applauded for kick-starting the evolution of Millennials into book-loving readers. Her stories of friendship, bravery, magic, adventure, war, corruption, and coming of age changed the way her young readers viewed books, from boring pieces of paper into valuable works of art.
Because of J.K. Rowling’s immense success as a pioneer in “Kid Lit,” or Children’s Literature, soon other aspiring authors were gaining popularity up in the Children’s Book industry, and soon in the Young Adult genre as well.
Here are just some of the books that took the world by storm and captured their fans’ hearts, including my own.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series by Rick Riordan – Set in the legendary city of New York, Percy Jackson is the funny, witty, and wickedly brave mortal son of the Greek god Poseidon. As a modern-day demigod, he travels the world on quests to defeat monsters from Greek Mythology, rescue goddess’ hairbrushes, and save the world a book at a time, while making numerous pop culture references on the way. While Harry Potter took us away from our world and into the wizarding community, Percy Jackson takes us across New York, San Francisco, Canada, Rome, Italy, and Greece, bringing his and his friends’ adventures into our everyday life.
What I love most about Percy Jackson is that Rick Riordan wrote his cast of characters as a very diverse and down to earth group of teenagers. With kids who are of Mexican, Native American, African American, Italian, and Asian descent, as well as characters who are part of the LGBQT+ community, they make numerous references to popular music, movies, and TV that I know and enjoy, like Green Day, Guardians of the Galaxy and Doctor Who, while fighting bad guys and using their mythological powers. Rick Riordan brought diversity and representation for the teens of our generation by making his characters funny, unique, relatable, and real. Through them, he addresses real life topics and issues, as well as showing that even though his characters are half-Greek god and have magical abilities, they go through having crushes and fighting with their siblings, too, just like us.
Wonder by R.J. Palacio – Born with a severe facial deformity, Auggie Pullman is an ordinary boy with an extraordinary face. Having never attending formal schooling before the fifth grade, he’s just a little boy who likes Star Wars and video games, and wishes that people could see that there’s more to him than his outward appearance. Wonder is one of my favorite books of all time, full of eye-opening wisdom that tackles the issues of bullying and acceptance, and the idea that “It’s not enough to be friendly. You have to be a friend.” Kindness is the biggest theme in Wonder, making the readers realize that “When given the choice between being right, or being kind, we ought to choose to be kind,” and that “…It’s not enough to be kind. One should be kinder than needed.” Wonder also talks about what success should really mean, suggesting that “It’s what you’ve done with your time, how you’ve chosen to spend your days, and whom you’ve touched this year…is the greatest measure of success,” and that “Courage. Kindness. Friendship. Character… are the qualities that define us as human beings, and propel us, on occasion, to greatness.”
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green – While it is labelled a typical high school love story, The Fault in Our Stars is so much more than that. It is the story of two teenagers dying from cancer, who meet at a therapy group and find a spark between them. They view the world as something very beautiful and precious, as every breath could be their last, so together they make the most of the time they have to appreciate everything around them. While I personally have never read the whole book, the parts I have are full of well-written descriptions and insightful dialogue that make me feel like I’m in the same room as Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters, going through what they are going through. I believe that The Fault in Our Stars drew serious attention to the YA (Young Adult) Genre by becoming the pioneer in the trend of talking about hard hitting topics, like cancer in TFiOS’s case, and in other novels, dealing with loss, divorce, anxiety, and mental illness.
What is your favorite Kid Lit or YA novel? Email us at email@example.com to be featured in our next issue!