Author Rick Riordan Discusses Interpreting Mythology For Middle Schoolers

Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson and The Olympians series and The Kane Chronicles, is known for taking ancient myths and turning them into fun reads for middle-schoolers. However, in a video with AdLit, he discusses the impact mythology had on him at that age and what it means for him as an author of children’s books today.

Riordan starts off by crediting his English teacher back in middle school for introducing him to the world mythology. “The first book that I remember reading at that age that I actually enjoyed was The Lord of the Rings trilogy.” The author goes on to explain that his teacher at the time mentioned that Tolkien was inspired by Norse mythology and handed him a few books on the subject.

After that, Riordan’s interest was peaked after reading the tales about Loki, Thor, and Odin and it helped open his eyes to the fact that fantasy was far older than he originally thought. After all, many of the same themes that are found in world mythology can also be seen in most, if not all, fantasy novels today.

Riordan goes on to explain that with the Percy Jackson series, he did his best to take the well-known legends from Greek mythology and cast them into a “modern mold” for young readers of today to enjoy. He elaborates by saying that as a child, Greek mythology “spoke to him,” and he notes that many children today would agree with him.

Riordan believes that this affinity for Greek mythology is due to the fact that demi-Gods are half-mortal, half-God and don’t fit in anywhere. Many middle schoolers can see themselves in these characters because they’re not quite little kids anymore, but they’re not teenagers yet either.

Riordan’s discussion brings new insight as to why the Percy Jackson series was such a hit with middle schoolers and also sheds new light as to why many children fall in love with the stories found in world mythology at such a young age too.

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