Learning from Teenage Fiction


A couple of days ago I posted a discussion on Facebook to find out what some people think of grown adults being seen reading fiction meant for children, teenagers or young adults.

While most who commented thought that there’s nothing taboo about it because we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, pun intended, there is also a point raised by Diane Leow, that somewhat explains why some adults, who are not necessarily resistant to reading children/teenage fiction, will never be seen holding the book in a public place. A media student herself, she said that “the media industry is so critical on what we read (some newpapers are crap vs “good” newspapers) and what we wear etc. etc. that one can’t help but be self-conscious about what they read. ”

As for me, I think it’s important to read young adult fiction because in a way, they represent what is the current fad and in order to communicate and relate to them effectively , we need to immerse in their sub-cultures.

Actually, I started this thread because one random day, I had the sudden urge to read  “The Diary of A Wimpy Kid”, so I “un-embarrassingly” asked my friend if I could borrow her daughter’s collection.

My Current Reads

I finished the first book the day I brought home the collection and I have to say it is very entertaining because it is a straightforward and unapologetic perspective offered by a teenager, whose particular stage in life is never comprehensible to the adults.

The truth is our parents were all teenagers once, so why can’t they seem to understand and stop nagging?

Because more often than not, they try to relate to the current teenagers by applying what they went through during their own years, completely disregarding the societal, environmental, economic changes that have occured since then.

It is the same stage in life, but it happened in a different time and place, so it’s no longer applicable to the current teenagers. Very often, parents’ attempts  to communicate end up being “incessant nagging”, from the perspective of the teen, which eventually results in the 3Rs – resistance, reluctance and in some cases rebellion.

For me, I find it hard to go back to a previous stage in life once you’ve moved past it. The only way I can, is to immerse myself in the literature of that time, to hopefully gain something that I’ve lost along the way. Not that during my time, the Diary of the Wimpy Kid was around though. Which is why I bought “A Wrinkle in Time“, to return to the kind of stories that I was familiar with when I was a child.

Somehow, children’s book written around the same time, like those by Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl, packaged lessons that both children and adults can learn in an imaginative world.

It’s nice to go back in time once in a while, to remember what it was like when we didn’t have so much baggage to lug around.

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21 responses to “Learning from Teenage Fiction

  1. I am 24 and proudly own the entire series of wimpy kid.. 😀 I chanced upon it some time last yr and the cover interested me so much I just bought 1 book to see and indeed afterwards I went to buy the others. Also caught the movie some time this year.

    Just thought that it was some senseless good reading – harmless humour and that we could all loosen up once in a while even though it’s tagged as a kid’s book.

    Just saw another similar book the other day by another author.. This style of writing is catching on to gain teenagers’ interest!

  2. Nothing wrong with reading children’s books. After all, it’s a stressful world.

  3. I love that wimpy kid book!~ hahaha. The rotten cheese. 😛

  4. There is nothing wrong with adult browsing books meant for children..
    I also browse books meant for 10 years old , although I am in my 30s.

  5. I’m going through this phase also. Going back to children lit. I just bought the 5th installment of the winkle in time series cause i had the old box set tat stopped at many waters. I din know an acceptable time was part of the series as well.. =) Children books are a lot simplier in content. No fussy adult relationship. Just simple friendship and such. And a whole load of hope and little of life’s complications. Just the way i like it.

  6. hi joanne, i believe we should grow up, but never grow out – of life’s lessons and truths, sometimes the most valuable of which, can be found in books for children/teens.

  7. don’t forget Adrian Mole!! that’s a classic. there’s a new book in the series, dunno if it hits the shelve in sg shops yet. . . AM and the prostate years

  8. R.D. and E.B books are a good read no matter how long ago they are. In fact I even pick up a few of “Sweet Dreams” series i found in my dusty cupboard recently and finished it during the weekend. ^__^

  9. haha. I like to read teen romance books cos lack of romance in real life.

  10. Congrats on you returning to 9pm drama again. I have some frank comments to share with you.

    You certainly have that potential in acting, but often as a viewer, I sense a strong sense of competitiveness in you and it is reflected in your acting. You over act. With the exception of The Little Nyonya, when you had perhaps accepted the fact earlier that the limelight of the show was never on you, you went on to put up an earnest performance that snatched an unexpected Best Actress for you.

    In your shows, you have usually shown little chemistry with your co-partners, especially with your female peers. You might not agree, but that is how a viewer like myself see you. I would think that there’s greater potential in you to be unleashed if you could work on your over-competitiveness and lack-of-chemistry.

    Firstly, see your co-workers as your partners instead of competitors. On your own, you can reach your personal best but with a good partner, you might surpass your personal best. Actually, viewers will not notice the actor’s “personal best” if there’s a lack of natural rapport and chemistry between the actors, it would be like watching the result of 2 persons acting against a blue screen and then put together.

    Secondly, subtleness is an art too. Instead of moving upwards to make your performance obvious, move downwards and give your performance more depth. Potential, like power, is nothing without control.

    Lastly, before filming begins and while you are also preparing for your role, may I suggest you watch the recent productions of your co-actors and actresses. It would not only be a convenient ice-breaker, it also gives you a better understanding of their styles to react and work on your chemistry with them. Never mind if they watched your shows or not, it is about you doing what is within your means to better yourself.

    As an actress, giving life to your role should be your sole concern. If you can really put up a good performance, admirers would fall in naturally. If you are more popular than your co-actors and actresses, that’s nothing to feel proud of. Likewise if your co-actors and actresses are more popular than you, you have nothing to fear or be worried about because if you focus and concentrate on your sole task – to handle the role well, the viewers will not fail to notice.

    I’m no expert and I can’t act too, but you don’t act just for “experts” and for people who “can act”, you are acting for people like me. And these are my views.

    • Thanks Rewiev for your honest opinion, seems like you know something that I don’t.

      🙂 Joanne

      Btw, while I appreciate your comment as a viewer, and will certainly work towards that, I would like to add that I learnt from a filmmaker that television and film is actually a director’s medium. Actors can make certain choices, but it is up to the directors to call the shots. A good director can make poor actors look good is what students are taught in film school. To date, I have one particular director to thank for what you deemed as an earnest performance in TLN because she never gave up on me all these years of my struggling to learn the craft and would vehemently reel actors back to give her what she wants. But unfortunately because of that, she is often misunderstood.

  11. charlie and the chocolate factory got me addicted to chocolates.
    nowadays i just read current affair and financial news.
    life sucks when you reach adulthood.
    dreams becomes nightmare as reality sets in.

  12. As quoted from above,”The truth is our parents were all teenagers once, so why can’t they seem to understand and stop nagging?”. Well, my class was discussing on the topic, “Why parents nag at us?” and we came up to one conclusion.
    Yes, parents nagging at us can be very irritating. No, not only parents whom are old at present nag at us. Parents of us current teens also nag at us. Thus, your point of relating the past and the present may not be valid in all families. However, the reason why they nag at us has NEVER changed.
    They nag at us, according to them, for our own good. But yes, they did it with that intention, for our own good. However, we had always, as children, ignored their nags. It might be as simple as, “Do your homework.” or “Have you revised?” for us students, however, what they really want is just to make sure that we could do well academically so as to be able to get a good job in the future.
    Their nags are of good intention. We should really learn to appreciate the reasons behind the nagging and complain less when they do nag.

  13. There is nothing wrong to read any kind of books in the public for my personal point of view.

    I felt as long as oneself thinks it is alright to read in the public than nothing is wrong in reading any kind of stuff in the public, not including adult stuff. Like people who reads the bible in public, what do you think of them and what if you are the one who reads the bible in the public, do you have any view?

    How you look at the person will be what you think people will look at you, isn’t it that way?

  14. i read the red and blue book of Diary of a Wimpy Kid.try to buy the others

  15. I love the diary of a wimpy kid! I LOL at the performance part. Where one of the kid role is a dog yet he walk with his leg!

  16. haha i think children’s books are the nicest (: love a wrinkle in time!!

  17. hello joanne, this is diane – the one you quoted. i feel rather honoured to have you quote me, actually – the comment was just a spur of the moment thing! that said, i love YA fiction. and i love how your blog discusses social issues that are seldom discussed, especially in conservative singapore. (:

  18. Stephen Isabirye

    Talking of browsing children’s books as an adult, I confess I exactly did that when researching my book on Enid Blyton, after decades of having placed herself and her books out of my mind. Nonetheless, my nostalgic affection for Enid Blyton and her books led me in publishing a book on her, titled, the Famous Five: A Personal Anecdotage (www.thefamousfiveapersonalanecdotage.blogspot.com).
    Stephen Isabirye

  19. I write it, I read it. Most writers for kids also read books written for kids. It’s what makes sense. Doesn’t it? I’d never be ashamed to have someone see me reading a kid’s book. Never read Diary of the Whimpy Kid. But I might now. 🙂

  20. So true! God, I hope I don’t nag like my parents did. Love children’s fiction. It’s some of the smartest stuff out there.

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