What the success of 300 tells us about Youth and Reading.
300 is being hailed at the first blockbuster of 2007. The movie, based on Frank Miller’s graphic novel, is being gobbled up by young fans.
Many of the fans were young fans attracted to the gorefest that it was. But underneath the blood was the retelling of an ancient Grecian battle (480 BC) which pit 300 Spartans against the invading Persian army at the pass of Thermopylae. While the Spartans eventually lost the battle and the 300 soldiers fought full of the knowledge and their fight was full of sacrifice, the courage and tenacity of the Spartan warriors helped secure an ultimate victory for the Greeks over the Persians.
Recently, there was an article in the Seattle Intelligencer that teens were buying books at a greater rate than anytime in decades. Booklist critic, Michael Cart, has said that this is a golden period of young adult literature.
While book purchasing is down and publishers, authors, and industry execs bemoan the decreasing readership, it’s important to note that all is not lost. The Young Adult market is one ripe for burdgeoning growth because it is read by both teens and adults. When I told my nephew of the graphic novel which was the basis of the movie, 300, he was intrigued and extracted a promise that I purchase a copy for him. I’ll have to pick up two because my husband would love it too. While it’s not completely historically accurate, the 300 could spur interest in history where Herodotus’s The Histories could not.