Young adult

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Young adult

Bericht van Karennn op di maa 08, 2016 9:52 pm

Young adult fiction or young adult literature, often abbreviated as YA, is fiction written, published, or marketed to adolescents and young adults. The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) of the American Library Association (ALA) defines a young adult as someone between the ages of twelve and eighteen. Authors and readers of young teen (YA) novels often define the category as literature traditionally written for ages ranging from sixteen years to the early twenties, while Teen Adult Fiction is written for the ages of ten to fifteen. The terms young adult novel, juvenile novel, young adult book, etc. refer to the works in the YA category.

The subject matter and story lines of YA literature are typically consistent with the age and experience of the main character, but YA literature spans the spectrum of fiction genres. YA stories that focus on the specific challenges of youth are sometimes referred to as problem novels or coming-of-age novels. According to 2013 statistics by the speculative fiction publisher Tor Books, women outnumbered men by 68% to 32% among YA submissions to the publisher, a gender distribution converse to that observed in adult science fiction and most other fantasy.



The history of YA literature is tied to the history of how childhood and young adulthood are imagined. Beginning in the 1920s, it was said that "this was the first time when it became clear that the young were a separate generation" (Cart 43); yet, multiple novels within the YA category had been published long before. One early writer to recognize young adults as a distinct group was Sarah Trimmer, who, in 1802, described "young adulthood" as lasting from ages 14 to 21.[6] In her children's literature periodical, The Guardian of Education, Trimmer introduced the terms "Books for Children" (for those under fourteen) and "Books for Young Persons" (for those between fourteen and twenty-one), establishing terms of reference for young adult literature that remain in use today.[6] Nineteenth century literature presents several early examples that appealed to young readers (Garland 1998, p. 6) including: The Swiss Family Robinson (1812), Waverley (1814), Oliver Twist (1838), The Count of Monte Cristo (1844), Tom Brown's Schooldays (1857), Great Expectations (1860), Alice in Wonderland (1865), The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884), Kidnapped (1886), The Jungle Book (1894), and Moonfleet (1898).[citation needed]

A few other novels published around the start of the 20th century include Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, Heidi by Johanna Spyri, and Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, published in 1937, and Betty Smith's A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, published in 1943, although not specifically written for a younger people, are read by many adolescents today at that level.[citation needed]

In the 1950s, shortly before the advent of modern young-adult publishing surrounding the teen romance market, two influential novels drew the attention of adolescent readers: The Catcher in the Rye (1951) and Lord of the Flies (1954). Unlike later fiction classified as YA, these novels were written with an adult audience in mind and were not initially marketed to adolescents.[6]

The modern classification of young-adult fiction originated during the 1950s and 1960s, especially after the publication of S. E. Hinton's The Outsiders (1967). The novel featured a truer, darker side of adolescent life that was not often represented in works of fiction of the time. Written during high school and published when Hinton was only 17, The Outsiders also lacked the nostalgic tone common in books about adolescents written by adults.[7] The Outsiders remains one of the best-selling young-adult novels of all time, and Hinton is often considered to be one of the founders of the genre.[7]

As the decades moved on, the stormy[clarification needed][opinion] 1960s became the era "when the 'under 30' generation became a subject of popular concern, and that research on adolescence began to emerge. It would also be the decade when literature for adolescents could be said to have come into its own" (Cart 43). This catapulted discussions about adolescent experiences and the new idea of adolescent authors; 1967 sparked the production in growth of this now thriving genre. In the 1970s, what has become to be known as the "fab five" were published. "For the record, the fab five are: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou; The Friends by Rosa Guy; The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath; Bless the Beasts and Children by Glendon Swarthout; and Deathwatch by Robb White" (Cart 77).

Through the decades
As publishers began to focus on the emerging adolescent market, booksellers and libraries began creating YA sections distinct from either children's literature or novels written for adults. The 1970s to the mid-1980s have been described as the golden age of young-adult fiction, when challenging novels began speaking directly to the interests of the identified adolescent market.[6]

In the 1980s: "the 1980s contained a large amount of Young Adult publications which pushed the threshold of topics that adolescents faced such as rape, suicide, parental death, and murder." Also in the 1980s, "teenagers seemed to want to read about something closer to their daily lives-romance novels were revived" (Cart 99). In the 1990s, young adult literature pushed adolescent issues even further by including topics such as "drinking, sexuality, drug use, identity, beauty, and even teen pregnancy" (Lubar). Also in the 1990s, it seemed as though the era of young adult literature was going to lose steam but "due in part to an increase in the number of teenagers in the 1990s the field matured, blossomed, and came into its own with the better written, more serious, and more varied young adult books published during the last two decades" (Tomlinson and Lynch-Brown 5).

In 1997, J.K. Rowling's first Harry Potter novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was published. This novel kicked off the seven-book Harry Potter series, which was praised for its complexity and maturity, and attracted a wide adult audience. It was essentially about three adolescents trying to lead a normal life and cope with the banal struggles of coming of age and deal with their loss of innocence in an increasingly war-ridden 1990's Wizarding Britain. The success of the Harry Potter series lead many to pinpoint Harry Potter and its author, J.K. Rowling, as the force responsible for the modern resurgence of YA literature seen in such successes as The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, and The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer.

Young adult literature uses a wide array of themes in order to appeal to a wide variety of adolescent readers.

These themes include:

science fiction,
drug abuse,
alcohol abuse,
familial struggles,
bullying, and
numerous others.

Some issues discussed in young adult literature include: friendship, love, race, money, divorce, relationships within families.[8] "The culture that surrounds and absorbs young adults plays a huge role in their lives. Young Adult Literature explores themes important and crucial to adolescence such as relationships to authority figures, peer pressure and ensuing experimentations, issues of diversity as it relates to gender, sociocultural, and/or socioeconomic status. Primarily, the focus is centered on a young lead character and the reader experiences emotions, situations, and the like through this character and is able to see how these problems/situations are resolved.[9] It also needs to play a significant role in how we approach this group and the books we offer them to read" (Lesesne 14). Reading about issues that adolescents can relate to allows them to identify with a particular character, and creates a sense of security when experiencing something that is going on within their lives. "Whether you call them archetypes or stereotypes, there are certain experiences and certain kinds of people that are common to adolescents. Reading about it may help a young person validate his or her own experience and make some kind of meaning out of it" (Blasingame, 12). In a paper written by April Dawn Wells, she discovers seventeen common traits of young adult novels. These include: "friendship, getting into trouble, interest in the opposite sex, money, divorce, single parents, remarriage, problems with parents, grandparents, younger siblings, concern over grades/school, popularity, puberty, race, death, neighborhood, and job/working".[10]

Young adult literature contains specific characteristics that are present throughout the genre. These characteristics encompass: "multi-themed story, tension versus shock effect, memorable characters, accurate facts and details, memorable voice, authentic dialogue, effective/clear writing style, sense of humor, widespread appeal, intriguing openings and memorable closings" (Cole 61–65). Other characteristics of Young Adult Literature include: "(1) Characters and issues young readers can identify with; those issues and characters are treated in a way that does not invalidate, minimize, or devalue them; Is framed in language that young readers can understand; Emphasizes plot above everything else; and  Is written for an audience of young adults" . Overall, young adult literature needs to contain specific elements that will not only interest readers of this genre, but elements that relate directly to real situations adolescents in all generations may encounter, and contain believable, empathetic characters

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