Updated: Mar 3, 2020
Anyone who has paid attention to publishing trends these last few years knows that Young Adult (YA) is a huge, saturated market. It seems authors are writing more YA than ever, and bookstore shelves burst with author debuts and series. There are a lot of reasons for the current popularity of YA, which we will take a look at later.
The impact of YA cannot be understated. YA typically targets teens between 14-17, though many readers older and younger partake in this age genre. Nevertheless, these ages are some of the most formative years. Readers are learning what they like, what they don’t like, how to formulate opinions based on what they read, and learning to understand many different moral concepts. This impact is not lost to many authors. Books such as The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and Dear Martin by Nic Stone describe racial inequality and police brutality in America. These are heavy topics, but necessary to start conversation and challenge teens’ views of the world. Other YA books simply provide a channel in which young people can see themselves represented.
Dumplin by Julie Murphy is a fun book featuring a fat main character that describes her struggles with herself and her mom about her weight. Overweight teenagers, who find little representation in the media except as the butt of a joke, can read books like Murphy’s and feel seen. There are mental illness stories, historical fiction that teaches important aspects of the past, nonfiction stories, and more. The list of genres under the scope of YA is endless. So are the possibilities.
This is a big reason why this age group appeals to adults and teenagers alike.
Representation in the media is incredibly important for teenagers. Being a teenager is hard in general, with changing hormones and increasing societal pressures of what they’re expected to look like, act like, and accomplish. Being able to escape for a while in the words of someone who understands their struggle is an absolute necessity.
Teenagers aren’t the only ones who benefit from representation, either. Many adults read Young Adult because the books are typically fast paced and deal with a lot of issues that some adults still go through. Body weight and racism are just two examples of many.
These books are windows into the mind of teenagers. Some are just amazingly well written stories. So why are people writing more YA than ever? In part, it’s because of the recent push for diversity in publishing, especially YA. Authors of color and other diverse backgrounds are encouraged through #dvpit and #ownvoices to share their own story based on their life experiences, or to simply represent themselves the way they want to be seen. Writers in YA aren’t all writing for the fame, or hoping for a movie deal like The Hunger Games. Authors write YA to speak to the kids just like them. The ones who are lost, or confused, or simply want6 to read about someone who looks and acts like them.
Despite how much people joke about the younger generations, being a teenager is hard. Finding solace in a book is the best way for teens to spend their time and formulate ideas of their own, no matter where they come from or what their life experiences.
About the Author: Madelyn Knecht is a freelance writer, editor, and avid reader from Texas. She loves everything fantasy and has a soft spot for Jane Austen and dark characters with hearts of gold. You can find her on YouTube and on Twitter.