Today in my children’s literature class, we had a lecture on young adult literature.
And it was really super interesting.
We all know how much I love YA literature. This is beyond obvious.
So the class today was really informative and one that I definitely am glad that I didn’t miss.
I mean, did you know that S.E. Hinton was sixteen when she wrote The Outsiders? Now, I’m not a #1 fan of the Outsiders but that is seriously badass. As an aspiring writer, I must admit that I am quite impressed.
But it really got me thinking about young adult literature in general. I remember when I was younger and there wasn’t much of a young adult section in the bookstore. I remember having to special order books because bookstores would never have them.
But now that’s definitely changed. Young adult literature has exploded in the last ten years. Exploded.
And let’s think about that for a moment. Kids and teenagers are reading more than ever. I think a lot of it stems from Harry Potter. Harry Potter opened up a lot-it opened up the doors to new ideas and it opened up the doors of a new approach on writing and reading. J.K.R. showed that kids and teens WILL read and they’ll read long books too (I mean, Order of the Phoenix is HUGE!)
And think of everything that has come since then: The Hunger Games, Percy Jackson, Mortal Instruments, Twilight series, the Fallen series, the Gemma Doyle series, the Inheritance series, etc. There are authors like Meg Cabot, Sarah Dessen, John Green, Maureen Johnson, Jay Asher, Deb Caletti and so on and so on.
Young adult literature is HUGE!
And it helps so much that so many of the movies that have been hitting the theaters in the past few years have been coming from popular YA novels (notice that I said popular, not good. Though I think most of these are good).
Perks of Being a Wallflower.
City of Bones.
The Fault in Our Stars (John Green) is optioned to be a movie, same with Fallen (Lauren Kate), Divergent (Veronica Roth), Thirteen Reasons Why (Jay Asher) and so many more. Delirium and Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver.
Don’t forget that The Vampire Diaries is a ridiculously popular TV series.
I literally could keep going. I won’t though…
There is also the fact that most authors nowadays are on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, instagram, Youtube and so on. Authors are so accessible nowadays. I’ve been tweeted by Libba Bray, Meg Cabot, Cassandra Clare, Jen Calonita. I’ve had Facebook conversations with Meg Cabot, Jen Calonita and Cinda Williams Chima.
But let’s make this very clear:
Not all of young adult literature is good. In fact, there is a good amount that is fairly bad.
Now, I liked the Twilight series. I kind of liked the Fallen series. They are entertaining and they keep me reading. They are also not the best written books around. There are books like The House of Night series (ugh) and Hush, Hush, Gossip Girl, etc. I can’t sit here and attack these books (I mean, those guys have a publishing deal and I don’t…) but I do think that the bad YA books can be the ones that bring such negative view to the young adult genre.
Because the fact is, there is a lot of fantastic young adult literature. People like John Green, Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, Jen Calonita, Jay Asher, Suzanne Collins, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Meg Cabot. These people are genuinely talented writers. They tell great stories.
But there’s more to it than that. They capture the young adult essence. They capture what its like to be a teenager and they capture the sort of things that they’re dealing with, from things like friendships and relationships and family issues to sex and sexuality and drugs and abuse. There are books that touch on so many teen issues and its amazing, especially since they’re usually so on touch with it and since the stories are so good.
Don’t deny it. We all remember the teen years. We all remember how hard they were. They weren’t easy and I don’t care how old you are, you remember how it felt. Why do you think young adult literature is also read by adults too? (Do I qualify as a young adult anymore…)
I also think that young adult literature gets a really bad reputation, because of more than just the good books vs. bad books (Sorry, Twilight, I’m looking at you). I think a lot of parents are really uncomfortable with some of the issues that are brought up in these books.
For instance, sex. There is a lot of sex in young adult novels. I’m not talking Fifty Shades of Grey here (UGH) but they’re teenagers! For the most part, these characters are from the ages of 15 to 19. They’re hormonal and thinking about sex. So of course sex is going to be discussesd, maybe more than that.
To parents, I say this: GET OVER IT. If you have talked to your teen about sex, then you have nothing to worry about. They will make the right decision, either way. If you haven’t talked to them about, then let them read it. You don’t have the cajones to talk to them about it and someone should!
I further think that parents have issue with the portrayal of adults in a lot of these novels. Parents can often times be the bad guy (Mortal Instruments, Delirium), they can be defied or disobeyed (Divergent), or neglectful (Hunger Games) or even addicts (Gemma Doyle). And here’s my answer to that: GET OVER IT. There are parents like that, whether you like or not. If you’re a good parent, you’re okay. And yeah, parents aren’t perfect and that’s okay too. Maybe they’ll appreciate you more after reading about these parents.
My point is, (and believe me, my point has changed at least four times), young adult literature should be treated the same way as any other literature or form of writing whether it’s children literature or biography or fiction or nonfiction or whatever. Some of it is going to be bad (really, really bad). Some of it is going to be good (really, really good).
But just think of the impact that it can have.
Because of YA, I want to be a writer. Because of YA, I have learned so much about life and I have learned different morals and values. Because of YA, I have learned so much about myself. Because of YA, I am the avid reader that I am. Because of YA, I have this blog.
And come on, young adult literature is awesome. And its there for everyone no matter what age or gender you are. It’s made for PEOPLE.
And if you ever need a recommendation, trust me, I got your back :)
What’s your favorite young adult novel???? As always, share in the comments.
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8 thoughts on “Stop Picking on YA Literature!”
Dude, I love the House of Night series. It totes cheezy as fuck, and the Vampire Acadmey series by Rachel Mead is WAY WAY better, but I still just downloaded the next two HoN books to my nook. Now, Libba Bray? I FUCKING LOVE HER. The Gemma Doyle series was the first YA series I read after Harry Potter. And I’m SO glad I did. I LOVE that series.
As for the Outsiders, that book started my desire to write. When I was a teenager, I wrote a fan fiction for that book. Mary Sues everywhere! I was like 14? I’m bummed I can’t share that with anyone because this was SO long ago it was printed on a dot matrix printer and saved on a floppy disc. Yeah, I just dated myself. I know. But I cannot thank S.E. Hinton enough for that book. Had I been true to myself in junior high and high school, I wouldn’t have stopped writing there. But after being told by so many English teachers that I wrote badly, I gave up. I focused on Music. Which I am very, very good at. And I love. I wi ll always love being a singer. But I also LOVE books, and now writing.
Also, John Green is a fucking genius. Looking for Alaska is one of my favorite YA books in the history of ever.
And you are more than welcome to like the house of night haha because that’s your preference. I personally think it’s horrible! But Libba Bray!!! My god. She is fantastic. You need to read her new book
Yes, really do need to read her new book.
And I know the House of Night series is not the best, but it’s a quick read and I do like pretty much anything with Vampires in it.
I like to think there are no bad books. I have this zany idea that every book that has ever existed (or will ever exist) was (or will be) someone’s favorite book at some time. I think the same thing about movies. We’re all different, and that’s great. I also think that reading is important, whether that be YA novels or graphic novels or whatever. If it gets you excited to read, then it’s doing a great job.
I would add His Dark Materials to your incomplete list of YA series. At this point, I think more people read Harry Potter first, but it’s a great (and controversial) second series. I think Harry Potter starts out at a younger reading level than His Dark Materials, so it makes since that people would read it a little later.
I have never read His Dark Materials and apparently this is something that I need to change. This is not the first comment that has mentioned that series so I need to get on that. I’ve heard the movie was disappointing which makes me sad, though I’ve never seen it
I am so going to add His Dark Materials to my want to read list!!!!
I love writing stories geared towards young adults (but which can generally, of course, also appeal to older readers) because it’s a great way to explore so many different themes, like first loves and coming into one’s own. I can’t even say that high school was the best time ever (I had a good high school experience, but college was WAY better), but for some reason it’s so much fun to write about high school, the dynamics between teenagers, between teens and the adults in their lives.