Wednesday, April 25, 2007

OPEN DISCUSSION - Who is reading Young Adult books?


"Exactly 'who' are YA readers? Is the age range broadening? "


This was a question posted by one of our visitors and it is a question we all hear periodically.

And so many other questions are tied into it: Is the defintion of YA changing? What makes a YA book a YA book? Content? Publisher designation? Something else?

Tell us your thoughts!

12 comments:

kmblack said...

This is an excelent question. My answer is the audience is definitely widening.

Recently my favorite independent had a post for a ya book club. I was so happy. Finally, I thought. But when I stopped by to sign up I was told that adults were not welcome. When I questioned the bookstore I was told that kids need a place that is free of adults. Hmm. Interesting.

I write young adult novels. I read them voraciously. I know a group of at least six people who adore the young adult genre. So I found this answer uncomfortable. Anyone else?

htw said...

I am finishing up my master's in library science and am in a YA lit class right now. Before this I had not read widely in the YA genre but have now found a few absolute favs that I will have to follow or die :)
Based on what was assigned and what I personally found by browsing, I would definitely have to say that the audience is widening exponentially. I've come to love Richard Peck's novels (I can't imagine who COULDN'T read them!) and recently found Holly Black's modern faerie tales and love them too (and use more caution in who I suggest them to).

There is such a variety of everything that you can hardly help but love them and I find the bookstore's policy restrictive and frankly kinda stupid.
just my 2¢ worth...
htw

Anonymous said...

As a librarian, I fnd that several adults are interested in YA fiction and also YA nonfiction. And that just makes me smile when they chat about how much they liked a particular YA book!

Emily said...

A few years ago, my mom suggested I read Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. I walked to the library with the intention of checking it out, but when I saw that it was with the kid books, I almost left it. I was embarassed to take it up to the circulation desk. I think I grabbed a thick bio about Ronald Reagan to balance it out...so the librarians wouldn't think I was dumb.
I've come a long way since then, and I think a lot of others have too. I read more YA now than adult lit, and I'm not afraid to recommend YA titles to adult friends. I know many adults that have read and adored books like Harry Potter, the Twilight Series, Shannons Hale's books, etc. YA books are getting a lot more attention these days, and I think they deserve it.

Carrie Jones said...

My first book, a YA novel, is about to come out. It's basically about a girl dealing with the fact that her long-time boyfriend has just told her he's gay.

I had a long-time gay boyfriend in high school. His mom is super nice, super conservative, super sweet. She is the type of woman who drinks tea, never wine, and goes to mass at least three times a week.

She sent me a note about my book that said, "I'm so excited about your book. I love young adult novels."

She's about 80 years old. He was their youngest child by a lot.

At the same time, I see kids in sixth grade reading John Green and Tobin Anderson and Sarah Dessen.

So, maybe the question is: Who isn't reading it?

Yes. I know. I know. I am a super Pollyanna person. It's almost disgusting.

My editor, Andrew Karre, says that "Young adult is a point of view, not a reading level."

So, for Flux, at least, YA is about pain, discovery, identity, comedy, sorrow. Who wouldn't want to read that?

MaryP said...

Carrie quoted: "Young adult is a point of view, not a reading level."

I agree with this heartily. I often say, I don't write for teens, I write about the teen experience.

But I wonder, with the age designation for YA, 12-18 years, if, besides narrowing the readership, it doesn't also get YA into trouble now and then. The difference between a 12 year old and an 18 year old is of galactic proportions. When I was 12 I had only just retired my Barbies, and when I was 18, I was married, in college, and paying monthly bills.

Rather than identifying an age for YA, I kind of like the idea of designating it as a viewpoint, instead. Interesting . . .

Cana said...

I teach eighth graders and my students prefer YA. Not all YA's are the same so I feel I have to be careful which ones I put on my shelves. Someone commented that they saw a sixth grader reading John Green. I assume that's LOOKING FOR ALASKA. I'm in a small rural southern town and haven't put that one on my shelves for student checkout because I feel my parents and administration would find the content inappropriate for 8th graders. It's unfortunate. My students would love it, I know.

Cynthia Leitich Smith said...

For what it's worth as a guide, reader mail for my new release Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007) usually comes from someone 16 to 40. I'd say it's about 50/50 teens and adults.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I've found that YA covers a much broader range than just high schoolers, as most book stores claim YA is for teens through 24. The characters in my series have an age range of 17 to 24, so I've been happy with the category of YA. Plus, I have just as many readers who are much older. YA written for the older age bracket has just as much appeal to adults.
They certainly shouldn't be excluded!

josephine said...

I am doing a research on reading young adult literature and developing self-esteem among young adults. Would appreciate if anyone could recommend young adult novels which address the issue of self-esteem.

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