What does a third grader think about YA books?
We all know YA books are awesome. We also know that many adults view them to be pointless. But what do children think of YA books?
I asked my little brother, who’s currently a third grader, to listen to the synopsis of four popular YA books and tell me 1) what he understood the book to be about and 2) if it sounds like a good book to read. His responses and mentality were actually quite interesting…
Sara: You ready? I’m going to read the synopsis of a popular YA book. A YA book is a book for people my age.
JD: You’re a young adult? Whaaaat?
Sara: Yes… I’m a teenager… Young adult means teenager.
JD: Hmm, I didn’t know that…
Sara: Now you know. So, I’m going to read you a summary and you tell me 1) what you understood the book is about and 2) if you think it would be a good book to read or not. Got it?
JD: Yes, ma’am.
Sara: The first one is Cinder.
Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen, along with androids, with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction.
What was that about?
JD: Eh… it’s about androids.
Sara: That’s all you got from it?
JD: …and that there is a mechanic that’s a cyborg… that’s all.
Sara: Okay… do you think it’s a good book or a bad book?
JD: A good book because it sounds cool. Androids and cyborgs are cool.
Sara: So what if I told you that there’s romance in the book?
JD: It’d still be cool but I wouldn’t read the romance parts because yuck.
Sara: Next is The Hunger Games.
The creation of an annual televised event known as the Hunger Games. In punishment, and as a reminder of the power and grace of the Capitol, each district must yield one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 through a lottery system to participate in the games. The ‘tributes’ are chosen during the annual Reaping and are forced to fight to the death, leaving only one survivor to claim victory.
JD: It’s about the Hunger Games!!! I watched the movies with you, remember? It’s about death; one survives and one doesn’t.. maybe… I don’t know… It’s a good book but I wouldn’t read it because it’s kind of scary.
Sara: Understandable. Are you going to watch the last movie with me?
JD: Yes, of course!
Sara: Up next is a very emotional book. The Fault in Our Stars.
Hazel and Augustus are two teenagers who share an acerbic wit, a disdain for the conventional, and a love that sweeps them on a journey. Their relationship is all the more miraculous, given that Hazel’s other constant companion is an oxygen tank, Gus jokes about his prosthetic leg, and they meet and fall in love at a cancer support group.
JD: Um… it’s about two sick people who love each other.
Sara: What do you think is going to happen to them?
JD: Their cancer might get worse and it’ll be painful. It’ll be the end of the world for them.
JD: By dying! The end.
Sara: Oh gosh, you hit home. So, do you think it’ll be a good book to read?
JD: Hmm, kind of. I’ll give it a 5 out of 10 because it’s romance and I don’t like romance… and that’s sad romance.
Sara: Ok, this book is the first of a classic series. Bad Beginning. Ready?
It tells an unhappy tale about three very unlucky children. Even though they are charming and clever, the Baudelaire siblings lead lives filled with misery and woe. From the very first page of this book when the children are at the beach and receive terrible news, continuing on through the entire story, disaster lurks at their heels. One might say they are magnets for misfortune.
JD: Umm… it’s about three clever siblings who meet a villain and are very unhappy.
Sara: So? What do you think?
JD: I’d rate it 1 out of 10 because I didn’t understand the summary so I wouldn’t understand the book.
Sara: Oh, brother.
Sara: Last but not least, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
When Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy took their first steps into the world behind the magic wardrobe, little do they realise what adventures are about to unfold. And as the story of Narnia begins to unfold.
JD: It’s about three kids in a world in a wardrobe and… that’s all.
Sara: What do you think is going to happen to them?
JD: They will never get out. I rate it an 8 out of 10 because it sounds cool. Four children just travel through a wardrobe, that’s so cool.
Sara: Out of all the books we’ve talked about, which one would you like to be a part of?
JD: The one about the wardrobe because I want to travel to another world with lions.
Sara: I agree. Thank you for your input. You’re awesome, bro.
JD: No problem!
So there you have it, folks. The third grader had no idea what was going on half the time. But you gotta admit, the head of an 8 year old is pretty interesting.
Do you have any siblings? Do they read YA?
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I’m Sara, a Colombian teenager with a never-ending enjoyment for reading. I’m a Netflix and Disney enthusiast and my monumental obsession is coffee.