We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Everyone can benefit from reading YA novels, regardless of age. Despite what you may have heard, YA fiction is not all fluff, clichés, and love triangles. The genre tackles unwieldy and important topics, such as self-doubt, oppression, friendship, and more — all while exploring central themes of growing up and finding yourself. Not only can these books help you through your tumultuous teenage years, they will also leave you with profound, transformative life lessons that stay with you forever. In case you’re still skeptical, here are five invaluable ways reading YA novels prepare you for adulthood:
You learn how to make genuine friends who accept you for who you are
From Perks of Being a Wallflower to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, YA novels are full of eccentric characters that don’t quite fit in with the crowd. Although the premise of these two books could not be more different — the former details the life of an ordinary high school freshman named Charlie while the latter follows a group of kids with superpowers — the underlying message remains the same. And it’s one that will save you a lot of time and heartbreak as an adult: Embrace what sets you apart, and you’ll find people who love you just the way you are.
You’re not afraid to stand up for what’s right
YA novels have no shortage of fierce, courageous characters who challenge oppressive regimes and rulers. The Mockingjay herself, Katniss Everdeen, is a perfect example of this. The uprising in The Hunger Games series and the eventual liberation of all the districts were made possible because Katniss was brave enough to stand up for what she believes in, even if that meant sacrificing her life to protect her loved ones. As you follow Katniss on her journey, you learn that just one person can bring about widespread, monumental change and gain the courage necessary to take a stand as an adult in the real world.
You’re more empathetic and aware that everyone is fighting their own battles
One of our favorite aspects about YA fiction is that its characters are often flawed and vulnerable. Take Tris from the Divergent series, for example. She’s stubborn and often close-minded, but she learns to become more empathetic — like you or I would, during our teenage years. Or Starr Carter from The Hate U Give! She fights her battles proudly and courageously, she teaches us to be brave. So just like real life, the YA genre is full of inspiring transformations and complex character development. Once you gain self-awareness about your own shortcomings and struggles, you learn to be gentler toward others on their journey. And as you quickly learn as an adult, empathy is everything. It makes you a better friend, girlfriend, boyfriend, daughter, son, worker, and so on and so forth.
You learn how to make the right decision, even when it’s not easy to do so
As J.K. Rowling wrote, “It is our choices … that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” Much of adulthood is about making a tough decision between what’s easy and what’s right. From the very first book in the Harry Potter series, we see timid characters like Neville be extraordinarily brave — and they’re not even 12 years old yet. Being an adult is basically like making an endless series of difficult decisions, but if you grew up learning from the best of the best in YA fiction, you already know how important it is to never take the easy way out.
You appreciate every second of life and gain the curiosity necessary to expand your worldview
Both a literary classic and YA novel, The Giver taught us to keep an open mind when it comes to the world around us. As an adult, it’s important to be curious and to both accept and understand unfamiliar people, cultures, and places — just like the protagonist, Jonas. Likewise, in The Fault in Our Stars, Augustus teaches Hazel the importance of living life to its fullest. Through their friendship, and romance, Hazel gains the courage to take risks and face her fears head-on, inspiring readers to do the same.
All this to say… #YA4LIFE
What other things have you learned from YA? Tell us in the comments below!