Young adult fiction (YA) is a category of fiction written for readers from 12 to 18 years of age.While the genre is targeted to adolescents, approximately half of YA readers are adults.
The subject matter and genres of YA correlate with the age and experience of the protagonist. The genres available in YA are expansive and include most of those found in adult fiction. Common themes related to YA include friendship, first love, relationships, and identity.Stories that focus on the specific challenges of youth are sometimes referred to as problem novels or coming-of-age novels.
Young adult fiction was developed to soften the transition between children's novels and adult literature.
The history of young adult literature is tied to the history of how childhood and young adulthood has been perceived. One early writer to recognize young adults as a distinct group was Sarah Trimmer, who, in 1802, described "young adulthood" as lasting from ages 14 to 21.In her children's literature periodical, The Guardian of Education , Trimmer introduced the terms "Books for Children" (for those under fourteen) and "Books for Young Persons" (for those between fourteen and twenty-one), establishing terms of reference for young adult literature that still remains in use. Nineteenth and early twentieth century authors presents several early works, that appealed to young readers, though not necessarily written for them such as Lewis Carroll, Robert Louis Stevenson, Mark Twain, Francis Hodgson Burnett, Edith Nesbit, JM Barrie, L. Frank Baum, Astrid Lindgren, Enid Blyton, CS Lewis.
In the 1950s, The Catcher in the Rye (1951), attracted the attention of the adolescent demographic although it was written for adults. The themes of adolescent angst and alienation in the novel have become synonymous with young adult literature.
The modern classification of young-adult fiction originated during the 1960s, after the publication of S. E. Hinton's The Outsiders (1967). The novel features a truer, darker side of adolescent life that was not often represented in works of fiction of the time, and was the first novel published specifically marketed for young adults as Hinton was one when she wrote it.Written during high-school and published when Hinton was only 16, The Outsiders also lacked the nostalgic tone common in books about adolescents written by adults. The Outsiders remains one of the best-selling young adult novels of all time.
The 1960s became the era "when the 'under 30' generation became a subject of popular concern, and research on adolescence began to emerge. It was also the decade when literature for adolescents could be said to have come into its own".This increased the discussions about adolescent experiences and the new idea of adolescent authors. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, what has come to be known as the "fab five" were published: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), an autobiography of the early years of American poet Maya Angelou; The Friends (1973) by Rosa Guy; the semi-autobiographical The Bell Jar (US 1963, under a pseudonym; UK 1967) by poet Sylvia Plath; Bless the Beasts and Children (1970) by Glendon Swarthout; and Deathwatch (1972) by Robb White, which was awarded 1973 Edgar Award for Best Juvenile Mystery by the Mystery Writers of America. The works of Angelou, Guy, and Plath were not written for young readers.
As publishers began to focus on the emerging adolescent market, booksellers and libraries began creating young adult sections distinct from children's literature and novels written for adults. The 1970s to the mid-1980s have been described as the golden age of young-adult fiction, when challenging novels began speaking directly to the interests of the identified adolescent market.
In the 1980s, young adult literature began pushing the envelope in terms of the subject matter that was considered appropriate for their audience: Books dealing with topics such as rape, suicide, parental death, and murder which had previously been deemed taboo, saw significant critical and commercial success.A flip-side of this trend was a strong revived interest in the romance novel, including young adult romance. With an increase in number of teenagers the genre "matured, blossomed, and came into its own, with the better written, more serious, and more varied young adult books (than those) published during the last two decades".
The first novel in J.K. Rowling's seven-book Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone , was published in 1997. The series was praised for its complexity and maturity, and attracted a wide adult audience. While not technically YA, its success led many to see Harry Potter and its author, J.K. Rowling, as responsible for a resurgence of young adult literature, and re-established the pre-eminent role of speculative fiction in the field,a trend further solidified by The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. The end of the decade saw a number of awards appear such as the Michael L. Printz Award and Alex Awards, designed to recognize excellence in writing for young adult audiences.
The category of young adult fiction continues to expand into other media and genres: graphic novels/manga, light novels, fantasy, mystery fiction, romance novels, and even subcategories such as cyberpunk, techno-thrillers, and contemporary Christian fiction.
Since about 2017, issues related to diversity and sensitivity in English-language young adult fiction have become increasingly contentious. Fans frequently criticize authors – including those who themselves belong to minorities – for "appropriating" or wrongly portraying the experiences of minority or disadvantaged groups. Publishers have withdrawn several planned young adult novels from publication after they met with pushback on these grounds from readers on websites such as Goodreads. Authors have reported harassment, demands to cease writing, and death threats over social media.To prevent offending readers, publishers increasingly, though with mixed success, employ "sensitivity readers" to screen texts for material that could cause offense.
Many young adult novels feature coming-of-age stories. These feature adolescents beginning to transform into adults, working through personal problems, and learning to take responsibility for their actions.YA serves many literary purposes. It provides a pleasurable reading experience for young people, emphasizing real-life experiences and problems in easier-to-grasp ways, and depicts societal functions.
An analysis of YA novels between 1980 and 2000 found seventeen expansive literary themes. The most common of these were friendship, getting into trouble, romantic and sexual interest, and family life.Other common thematic elements revolve around the coming-of-age nature of the texts. This includes narratives about self-identity, life and death, and individuality.
There are no distinguishable differences in genre styles between YA fiction and adult fiction. Some of the most common YA genres include contemporary fiction, fantasy, romance, and dystopian.Genre-blending, which is the combination of multiple genres into one work, is also common in YA.
New adult fiction (also known as NA) is a genre, generally written about and aimed towards young adults between 18 and 30 years old.Many publishers specifically target the genre towards the 18 to 24 age range. The term "new adult" was popularized in 2009 when St. Martin's Press ran a contest requesting stories about "a sort of older YA or new adult."
There are some disparities in defining new adult, but it generally focuses on characters exploring the challenges of adult life.Common themes include: relationships, college life, self-identity, new responsibilities, and issues like abuse. Often, new adult is seen as a subcategory of romance as many books feature themes like sexual exploration. Critics of the new adult genre claim that the terminology is condescending because it implies that readers need "training wheels" before reading adult fiction. It is believed that New Adult bridges the gap between Young Adult and Adult Fiction by detailing how to adjust to life after adolescence.
Popular new adult authors include Jennifer L. Armentrout, Jamie McGuire, Colleen Hoover and Tammara Webber.
"Social-problem" novels or problem novels are a sub-genre of literature focusing and commenting on overarching social problems. [ citation needed ]They are typically a type of realistic fiction that characteristically depict contemporary issues such as poverty, drugs, and pregnancy. Published in 1967, S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders is often credited as the first problem novel. Following this release, problem novels were popularized and dominated during the 1970s.
Sheila Egoff described three reasons why problem novels resonate with adolescents:
A classic example of a problem novel and one that defined the sub-genre is Go Ask Alice by Anonymous (pseudonym for Beatrice Sparks) published in 1971. Go Ask Alice is written in first-person as the diary of a young girl who experiences a lot of problems while growing up. In order to cope with her problems, the protagonist begins experimenting with drugs. Modern examples of problem novels include Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson , Crank by Ellen Hopkins, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.
The distinctions among children's literature, young adult literature, and adult literature have historically been flexible and loosely defined. This line is often policed by adults who feel strongly about the border.At the lower end of the age spectrum, fiction targeted to readers age 8-12 is referred to as middle-grade fiction. Some novels originally marketed to adults are of interest and value to adolescents, and vice versa, as in the case of books such as the Harry Potter series of novels.
Some examples of middle grade novels and novel series include the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan, The Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney. Some examples of young adult novels and novel series include the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, and the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare.
Middle grade novels are typically for the ages of 8–12. They tend to have an ATOS level of 5.0 or below, have a smaller word count, and are significantly less mature and complex in theme and content than YA, NA, or adult fiction. Young adult novels are for the ages of 12–18. They tend to have an ATOS level of 5.0 or above, have a larger word count, and tackle more mature and adult themes and content. Middle grade novels usually feature protagonists under the age of 13, whereas young adult novels usually feature protagonists within the age range of 12–18.
YA has been integrated into classrooms to increase student interest in reading. There is a common misconception that YA lit is solely for "struggling" or "reluctant" readers and should be reserved for remedial classes. Studies have shown that YA can be beneficial in classroom settings.YA fiction is written for young adults and so it is often more relevant to students' social and emotional needs than is classic literature. Use of YA in classrooms is linked to:
Students who read YA are more likely to appreciate literature and have stronger reading skills than others.YA also allows teachers to talk about "taboo" or difficult topics with their students. For example, a 2014 study shows that using Laurie Halse Anderson's novel Speak aided in discussions on consent and complicity. Those who read about tough situations like date rape are more emotionally prepared to handle the situation if it arises. It is important to use diverse literature in the classroom, especially in discussing taboo topics, to avoid excluding minority students.
Literature written for young adults can also be used as a stepping stone to canonical works that are traditionally read in classrooms, and required by many school curriculums. In Building a Culture of Readers: YA Literature and the Canon by Kara Lycke, Lycke suggests pairing young adult literature and canon works to prepare young adults to understand the classic literature they will encounter.YA can provide familiar and less alienating examples of similar concepts than those in classic literature. Suggested pairings include Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series with the Iliad or the Odyssey, or Stephenie Meyer's Twilight with Wuthering Heights . When discussing identity, Lycke suggests pairing Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter with Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian.
English language young adult fiction and children's literature in general have historically shown a lack of books with a main character who is a person of color, LGBT, or disabled. In the UK 90% of the best-selling YA titles from 2006 to 2016 featured white, able-bodied, cis-gendered, and heterosexual main characters.The numbers of children's book authors have shown a similar lack of diversity. Between 2006–2016, eight percent of all young adult authors published in the UK were people of color.
Diversity is considered beneficial since it encourages children of diverse backgrounds to read and it teaches children of all backgrounds an accurate view of the world around them.In the mid-2010s, more attention was drawn to this problem from various quarters. In the several years following, diversity numbers seem to have improved: One survey showed that in 2017, a quarter of children's books were about minority protagonists, almost a 10% increase from 2016.
The 1980s witnessed a new publication trend—series of contemporary teen romance novels, especially planned, written, and marketed just for adolescent girls.
Ursula Kroeber Le Guin was an American author best known for her works of speculative fiction, including science fiction works set in her Hainish universe, and the Earthsea fantasy series. She was first published in 1959, and her literary career spanned nearly sixty years, yielding more than twenty novels and over a hundred short stories, in addition to poetry, literary criticism, translations, and children's books. Frequently described as an author of science fiction, Le Guin has also been called a "major voice in American Letters." Le Guin herself said she would prefer to be known as an "American novelist".
Utopian and dystopian fiction are genres of speculative fiction that explore social and political structures. Utopian fiction portrays a setting that agrees with the author's ethos, having various attributes of another reality intended to appeal to readers. Dystopian fiction offers the opposite: the portrayal of a setting that completely disagrees with the author's ethos. Some novels combine both genres, often as a metaphor for the different directions humanity can take depending on its choices, ending up with one of two possible futures. Both utopias and dystopias are commonly found in science fiction and other types of speculative fiction, and are themselves arguably, by definition, a type of speculative fiction.
Children's literature or juvenile literature includes stories, books, magazines, and poems that are made for children. Modern children's literature is classified in two different ways: genre or the intended age of the reader.
Alex Sánchez is a Mexican American author of award-winning novels for teens and adults. His first novel, Rainbow Boys (2001), was selected by the American Library Association (ALA), as a Best Book for Young Adults. Subsequent books have won additional awards, including the Lambda Literary Award. Although Sanchez's novels are widely accepted in thousands of school and public libraries in America, they have faced a handful of challenges and efforts to ban them. In Webster, New York, removal of Rainbow Boys from the 2006 summer reading list was met by a counter-protest from students, parents, librarians, and community members resulting in the book being placed on the 2007 summer reading list.
Susan Eloise Hinton is an American writer best known for her young-adult novels (YA) set in Oklahoma, especially The Outsiders (1967), which she wrote during high school. Hinton is credited with introducing the YA genre.
Speak, published in 1999, is a young adult novel by Laurie Halse Anderson that tells the story of high school freshman Melinda Sordino. After accidentally busting an end of summer party due to a sexual assault, Melinda is ostracized by her peers because she will not say why she called the police. Unable to verbalize what happened, Melinda nearly stops speaking altogether, expressing her voice through the art she produces for Mr. Freeman's class. This expression slowly helps Melinda acknowledge what happened, face her problems, and recreate her identity.
Mormon fiction is generally fiction by or about members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who are also referred to as Latter-day Saints. Its history is commonly divided into four sections as first organized by Eugene England: foundations, home literature, the "lost" generation, and faithful realism. During the first fifty years of the church's existence, 1830–1880, fiction was not popular, though Parley P. Pratt wrote a fictional Dialogue between Joseph Smith and the Devil. With the emergence of the novel and short stories as popular reading material, Orson F. Whitney called on fellow members to write inspirational stories. During this "home literature" movement, church-published magazines published many didactic stories and Nephi Anderson wrote the novel Added Upon. The generation of writers after the home literature movement produced fiction that was recognized nationally but was seen as rebelling against home literature's outward moralization. Vardis Fisher's Children of God and Maurine Whipple's The Giant Joshua were prominent novels from this time period. In the 1970s and 1980s, authors starting writing realistic fiction as faithful members of the LDS Church. Acclaimed examples include Levi S. Peterson's The Backslider and Linda Sillitoe's Sideways to the Sun. Home literature experienced a resurgence in popularity in the 1980s and 1990s when church-owned Deseret Book started to publish more fiction, including Gerald Lund's historical fiction series The Work and the Glory and Jack Weyland's novels.
Urban fiction, also known as street lit or street fiction is a literary genre set in a city landscape; however, the genre is as much defined by the socio-economic realities and culture of its characters as the urban setting. The tone for urban fiction is usually dark, focusing on the underside of city living. Profanity, sex, and violence are usually explicit, with the writer not shying away from or watering-down the material. Most authors of this genre draw upon their past experiences to depict their storylines.
Booklist is a publication of the American Library Association that provides critical reviews of books and audiovisual materials for all ages. Booklist's primary audience consists of libraries, educators, and booksellers. The magazine is available to subscribers in print and online. Booklist is published 22 times per year, and reviews over 7,500 titles annually. The Booklist brand also offers a blog, various newsletters, and monthly webinars. The Booklist offices are located in the American Library Association headquarters in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood.
Inspirational fiction is a sub-category within "inspirational literature," or "inspirational writing," defined in various ways in the United States and other nations. More and more bookstores and libraries consider inspirational fiction to be a separate genre, classifying and shelving books accordingly.
A Day No Pigs Would Die is a semi-autobiographical novel by Robert Newton Peck about Rob Peck, a boy coming of age in rural Vermont on an impoverished farm. Originally published in 1972, it is one of the first books to be categorized as young adult fiction, in addition to being Peck's first novel; the sequel, A Part of the Sky, was published in 1994.
Gay teen fiction is a subgenre that overlaps with LGBT literature and young adult literature. This article covers books about gay and bisexual teenage characters who are male.
Adolescent literacy refers to the ability of adolescents to read and write. Adolescence is a period of rapid psychological and neurological development, during which children develop morally, cognitively, and socially. All of these three types of development have influence—to varying degrees—on the development of literacy skills.
Jacqueline Woodson is an American writer of books for children and adolescents. She is best known for Miracle's Boys, and her Newbery Honor-winning titles Brown Girl Dreaming, After Tupac and D Foster, Feathers, and Show Way. After serving as the Young People's Poet Laureate from 2015 to 2017, she was named the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, by the Library of Congress, for 2018–19. She was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2020.
Sharon Mills Draper is an American children's writer, professional educator, and the 1997 National Teacher of the Year. She is a five-time winner of the Coretta Scott King Award for books about the young and adolescent African-American experience. She is known for her Hazelwood and Jericho series, Copper Sun,Double Dutch, Out of My Mind and Romiette and Julio.
Young adult romance literature is a genre of books written for teenagers. As defined by Romance Writers of America, a romance novel consists of a central love story and an emotionally satisfying ending. Young adult romances feature a teenage protagonist, who is typically female, white, and middle-class, although books in the twenty-first century include a wider variety of protagonist.
New adult (NA) fiction, also rendered as new-adult fiction, is a developing genre of fiction with protagonists in the 18–30 age bracket. St. Martin's Press first coined the term in 2009, when they held a special call for "...fiction similar to YA that can be published and marketed as adult—a sort of an 'older YA' or 'new adult'". New adult fiction tends to focus on issues such as leaving home, developing sexuality, and negotiating education and career choices. The genre has gained popularity rapidly over the last few years, particularly through books by self-published bestselling authors like Jennifer L. Armentrout, Cora Carmack, Colleen Hoover, Anna Todd and Jamie McGuire.
The Bluford Series is a widely read collection of contemporary American young adult novels set in the fictional inner-city high school of Bluford High in Southern California. Bluford is named for Guion "Guy" Bluford, the first African-American astronaut. The series was created and published by Townsend Press and was co-distributed by Scholastic. As part of an effort to promote reading in underfunded school districts, Townsend Press originally made the Bluford Series available to schools for a dollar each. As of 2016, about 11 million Bluford Series novels were in print.
Young adult fiction and children's literature in general have historically shown a lack of diversity, that is, a lack of books with a main character who is a person of color, LGBT, or disabled. The numbers of children's book authors have shown a similar lack of diversity. Diversity is considered beneficial since it encourages children of diverse backgrounds to read and it teaches children of all backgrounds an accurate view of the world around them. In the mid-2010s, more attention was drawn to this problem from various quarters. In the several years following, diversity numbers seem to have improved: One survey showed that in 2017, a quarter of children's books were about minority protagonists, almost a 10% increase from 2016.
Anna-Marie McLemore is a Mexican-American author of young adult fiction magical realism, best known for their Stonewall Honor-winning novel When the Moon Was Ours, Wild Beauty, and The Weight of Feathers.
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