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Adults are reading more youth literature

Published: 19 September 2016

New research at Luleå University shows that it is increasingly common that adults reads literature intended for young people.

– This is a clear trend in recent years. You could say that it started with Harry Potter in the 90s and since then has only become more apparent with titles such as The Hunger Games, Divergent and The Circle and says Anna Nordenstam, professor at Luleå University of Technology. The research is presented in the recently published book From fables to manga 2 - literary and didactic perspective on youth that is written with Ann Boglind from Gothenburg University.

Not a sign of infantilization

In the book, they have gone through the youth literature starting with the classics but with particular emphasis on the 1950s to the present day. That adult readers are increasingly interested in literature written for a younger audience is not a problem acording to Anna Nordenstam.

– All reading is good. One could interpret this as increased infantilization but I would say it depends on the youth literature you read. There is youth literature that is probably as good as any adult book anywhere, and just because books are written for adult readers does not mean that it is good literature, it is like all other arts, says Anna Nordenstam.

More difficult demarcation

One explanation for this trend (called crossover literature) can be a strong youth norm and an ever more fluid view of who really is an adult.

– Today it is difficult to draw the line and I also believe that many adults read widely and mixing high with low. Another possible explanation is that adults are interested in books or filmed some popular cultural phenomenon like Twilight or circle, says Anna Nordenstam.

Another modern trend is that images have been given a growing space in juvenile books.

– Young people today are visual and enjoy reading picture novels where text and image are intertwined. Here, the image becomes a deepening of the authorship, which is very timely since we live in a image society in a completely different way than previous generations did, says Anna Nordenstam.

In the media

Anna Nordenstam, professor of Swedish and Education, 0708-34 92 48