Originally Posted by pshrynk
It's my understanding that even back in Dickens' days, teenagers didn't read his stuff. It was considered adult literature.
Not sure that's true. Most of his books were serialised, and that generally indicates something considered suitable for reading by the family after dinner, and of course, the language we now consider dated wouldn't have been so then.
Plus, I think children at least the ones that were educated) generally seemed more able than those of the same age now. Thanks to their wider availability now, I've lately been reading quite a few of the late 19th/early 20th century books ostensibly aimed at what we'd now call teenagers, and I've been struck by how difficult some of them are. Angela Brazil's school stories and the Tom Swift adventure series, for instance, are quite long and densely written books, and even taking into account the development of the language over those years, contain some pretty difficult words. Compared with books for similar age groups today (Twilight and the like), they seem quite a lot harder, yet I read AB's books as a young teen, and don't recall that being the case; I doubt I'd have remembered them with such fondness if I had. I also remember the debate about the Harry Potter books being too 'difficult', yet quite young children were reading (and clearly enjoying) them.