I've blogged before about the disparity between successful children's books in the US and the UK. This week the literary agency Upstart Crow has a fascinating blog post from their intern, who has worked in both countries.
What do you think?
I definitely agree there's a cultural difference which may influence reading habits between the US and the UK. I'm not sure I'd agree it's caused by things like driving and the drinking age, but perhaps those are indicative of a larger, systemic difference.
One of my tutors asked me about middle grade and YA books being taught in US classrooms. It's rare, and should be done more often, but it definitely happens. I personally have taught or required my students to read from a selection of YA books. But apparently that doesn't happen nearly as often in the UK.
I wonder if it's not so much that the UK isn't interested in American YA as that the UK (at least British adults) aren't interested in any YA. I've heard more than once that Brits are not as interested in childhood as Americans (for example, Camila Batmanghelidjh on Britain's distorted view of childhood). That seems a damning statement, but I think Americans tend to worship childhood, especially the teenage years. Think of cultural icons like Grease, Rebel Without A Cause. Even Twilight. There aren't many British equivalents (except of course Harry Potter).
But perhaps there could be. My publishing course tutor pointed out that there hasn't yet been a big British dystopian. But it's coming. He knows someone whose dystopian novel has just been accepted for publication. One of my classmates is writing an INCREDIBLE dystopian. Maybe the Brits would get on board the YA wagon if they had more of their own books to tout, their own authors to go on tour. That could help bridge this divide.
But would Americans read a British dystopian?