Only one day and one letter left! We can do it!
Y is for YA
Yup. I decided to devote today to the genre that I write (and adore to read): YA.
What makes a book YA?
I've heard some people say that YA is just a marketing ploy. Not true! Drawing on my children's lit scholarship, YA is a genre of literature written specifically for the young adult audience. Main characters are usually teens (although every now and again an early twenties character pops up in YA), but more importantly, this is literature that speaks to teens. The themes and issues addressed in the stories will appeal to many readers, but are targeted at youth. I know that's a vague definition, but YA is a broad category. If it is targeted to teens with an authentic voice, I consider it YA.
Some people still argue that YA is unnecessary, that teens should be reading "real" literature, blah blah blah. For what it's worth, I believe that teens (and children and adults, for that matter) should read whatever they want. As a former middle school teacher, I have seen the power of YA: teens who will not read class assigned books and claim to hate reading DEVOUR series like "Bluford High" and "Percy Jackson". YA fills a vital niche, and besides, it's just plain fun!
For a more in-depth exploration of the term, check out the Wikipedia entry.
Where can I find YA?
Everywhere! The market has exploded in the last decade (thank you, J.K. Rowling, Suzanne Collins, and Stephanie Meyer!), and more YA is available today than ever before. Any bookstore or library will have a section dedicated to YA, and it's usually really easy to find.
But if you want some great recommendations, check out YALSA. The Young Adult Library Services branch of the ALA posts more awards and book lists than anyone could ever read, but I keep trying! I ALWAYS look at the Teen Top Ten when building my own reading lists, and so far it has never led me astray.
Here's a list of 50 great YA blogs. If you're a bit older than the Y but you still love YA, check out Forever Young Adult.
Do you remember the first YA novel you ever read? For some of us, that didn't happen until adulthood. What are your top three YA reads?