I was fortunate when I started my job in the library that it coincided with the introduction of Accelerated Reader. This meant that every book had to be taken from the shelves and given a level; a process which took two weeks but allowed me to view and handle the majority of the books in the library.
I will read pretty much any fiction but, previous to becoming a librarian, the only Young Adult fiction I’d read was the Twilight and Harry Potter series. I was therefore surprised when looking through the books at just how many of them had illustrations and it continues to surprise me today. I remember as a young reader that you would graduate from the Ladybird-type picture books to chapter books with small illustrations and then on to ‘grown-up’ books with no pictures. There seems to be another phase to this now, I guess you would call it the ‘tween phase where it’s not kiddy literature but it’s not quite YA either. I’m thinking of the likes of Diary of a Wimpy Kid or the Tom Gates series; these books are marketed towards 10-12 year olds yet their accelerated reader levels are quite high meaning our Year 7s can’t read them yet but they are very heavy on the illustrations.
It is strange to me to see a 14 year old reading book with so much illustration but I wouldn’t say I’m necessarily against it; so long as kids are reading I’m happy! I do find it ironic though that our kids will happily read a Tom Gates (which are pretty heftily thick books) over thinner books without illustrations; whereas normally it’s “I’m not reading that, it’s too thick.”
With only three weeks to go I’m preparing a list of YA fiction to read over the summer, I’m thinking Wimpy Kid as it’s really a crime that I have never read one but I’m up for suggestions too!