Defining Young Adult Literature

An interesting post on what Young Adult literature is.

From my point of view YA covers a wide range of books. I think there are YA novels which are practically just adult novels and then there are those for younger teenagers. I think this is where the age of the protaganist comes in. Also many teenagers like to read about characters who are slightly older than them rather than the same age.

The main point about YA novels, in my opinion, is that the main character has problems that the reader can understand and relate to. They must overcome these problems and there should be a change in the way the character lives their life afterwords. In other words there should be strong character development.

Scribbles & Wanderlust

I’m currently taking a genre study course on young adult literature, and we’re trying to find a way to define the genre, so that it encompasses current YA, classic YA, and all the subgenres of YA.

We’re finding it to be incredibly difficult! But out class has agreed on these points:

  • YA must have a young adult protagonist (arguments about age continue…11-21, 13-23, 13-19?)
  • YA is a coming-of-age and/or first encounters novel
  • YA has characters and/or experiences that the reader can relate to

Other aspects of our definition we argue over, such as:

  • respecting the intelligence of the reader (authors like Dessen and Green certainly do, but some other authors write less literary and more entertaining/simple language)
  • accessible language (some classic YA, like Jane Eyre seems to be categorized as lately, doesn’t quite meet this)
  • including “classic YA” (is it YA? Was it thrown in because they’re taught to YA…

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