YA Fiction: Books that Inspire

Many adults enjoy reading YA fiction, in spite of criticism from other adult readers saying that they need to “grow up,” and “quit living in the past.” But is that really the reason that adults read YA? Is it a fair assumption that adult readers are developmentally stunted or nostalgic for their youth?

I, for one, don’t believe that is the case. (And not just because I write YA and want more people to read my work 🙂 !) While most fiction strives to entertain, a large percentage of YA fiction also seeks to inspire readers. I suspect that it’s an effect of writing for an audience who is figuring out their role in the world and their purpose in life. YA stories often explore options or unique situations, and allow readers to imagine alternative outcomes and to explore how they might handle similar situations.

Of course, there are inspirational stories in adult fiction, but even more in adult nonfiction, as authors write their own life experiences to inspire others. And of course, there is a wealth of YA fiction that serves only to entertain. but I suspect that the YA fiction that lasts – beyond its run on the NYT bestseller list, beyond the 10th grade book report, beyond its current print run – is the fiction that inspires readers to want to make the world a better place.

Your turn: What books inspire you? What themes are common in the books that inspire you: family, loyalty, equality, acceptance of others, standing up for what is right? Something else? What have your favorite books inspired you to do?