YA books are gaining widespread readership among more than just teens. More often than not, it is an adult looking for the latest “Ranger’s Apprentice” book or “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins. What is YA Lit? Why is it so popular? And what should you read to get a taste for this type of book?
What is YA Lit?
YA Lit, aka Young Adult Literature, is any book or story that has primary appeal to teenagers. This usually translates into young protagonists exploring their place in the world. Sometimes this coming of age is completed in a contemporary, realistic setting, but more often than not lately, these big questions are answered through tableaus of mortal danger and dystopian settings.
Why is YA Lit So Popular?
- Word of mouth – ex) Harry Potter, Twilight
- Made into movie – ex) Twilight, Hunger Games
- Awards – ex) The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
- Adult author crossover – ex) James Patterson, Carl Hiassen
- Allows adults to relive the crucial experience of growing up.
- Parents introduced to YA literature by their kids.
- Vibrant, fantastic writing – young adult novels tend to emphasize strong voices and clear, clean descriptive prose
- Books for teens are designed to hook readers and keep them reading. The result is an immediate connection to the book’s characters and their experiences.
Sample Book List of Compelling YA Lit
The following list is not comprehensive. It’s not a list of award winners. It’s not a list of the best sellers. It’s not a list of the newest, hottest, most daring or whatever “-est” adjective you can think of. It is a list of titles found on YA Lit bloggers’ websites that I thought sounded like they might appeal to adult readers interested in YA Lit. Hopefully some of these titles will appeal to you and your readers.
The Chocolate War (1974)
by Robert Cormier
Jerry Renault is forced into a psychological showdown with Trinity School’s gang leader, Archie Costello, for refusing to be bullied into selling chocolates for the annual fund raising.
The Mockingbirds (2010)
by Daisy Whitney
When Alex, a junior at an elite preparatory school, realizes that she may have been the victim of date rape, she confides in her roommates and sister who convince her to seek help from a secret society, the Mockingbirds.
My Beating Teenage Heart (2011)
by C.K. Kelly Martin
Two unexpected and heartbreaking deaths cause the lives of two very different teenagers to become intertwined as one struggles to deal with his grief and stay in this world, and the other finds herself inexplicably caught between this world and the next.
Once Was Lost (2009)
by Sara Zarr
As the tragedy of a missing girl enfolds in her small town, fifteen-year-old Samara, who feels emotionally abandoned by her parents, begins to question her faith.
Rats Saw God (1996)
by Rob Thomas
In hopes of graduating, Steve York agrees to complete a hundred-page writing assignment which helps him to sort out his relationship with his famous astronaut father and the events that changed him from promising student to troubled teen.
The Space Between Trees (2010)
by Katie Williams
When the body of a classmate is discovered in the woods, sixteen-year-old Evie’s lies wind up involving her with the girl’s best friend, trying to track down the killer.
The True Meaning of Smekday (2007)
by Adam Rex
When her mother is abducted by aliens on Christmas Eve (or “Smekday” Eve since the Boov invasion), 11 year-old Tip hops in the family car and heads south to find her and meets an alien Boov mechanic who agrees to help her, and save the planet from disaster.
YA Book Blogs
- YA For Grownups : The Atlantic Wire : The Atlantic Wire is a guide to current news and ideas. It tracks newsmakers and opinions across the entire media spectrum: newspapers, web sites, television, radio and magazines. The YA for Grownups is a special continuing feature tracking the popularity of this topic.
- YA Book Blog Directory : The YA Book Blog directory is a comprehensive list of various Young Adult Book Blogs.
- Forever Young Adult : A site for YA readers who are a little less Y and a bit more A.
- I Swim for Oceans : A reader review site that loves teenager focused lit.
- Book Chic Club : This blogger shakes things up from a male perspective, and features author interviews and guest blogs on YA novels.
- The Book Smugglers : Two women who are voracious readers that plan to provide a minimum of 4 books reviews per week. At least once a month, they do a joint review of the same book to add a little spice and lend some differing perspectives.
Benedetti, Angela. (2011). Not Just for Teens. Library Journal. Retrieved June 18, 2012, from http://www.libraryjournal.com/lj/home/890765-264/not_just_for_teens_.html.csp.