Adult books are about learning to live in the world we have. YA books are about changing the world.
A quiet evolution has been occurring in the world of book publishing during this last decade. A hybrid species is emerging—one that has taken until just last year to jump the Atlantic and become available to American literary consumers. There may not seem to be much room to improve upon our current forms of bookish technology, as the basic formats are pretty simple: hardcover, paperback, ebook. But even if you are firmly in either the print or electronic camp, you may be pleasantly surprised by a type of happy medium that is ideally giving readers the best of both worlds.
Growing up around this library program and watching it flourish over the years inspired me to take a deeper look at young adult programs in libraries for my thesis. How have they developed over the years? What makes them “successful,” and what defines success? How are librarians identifying and then meeting their communities’ needs?
To anyone that’s been paying attention to recent trends in young adult (YA) over the last four or five years, the line-up of books slated for 2019 is both timely and highly anticipated. With the push for diversity in literature and media still going as strong as ever (perhaps even stronger than ever), it seems that publishers have finally started to seriously answer the call. Young adult (and middle grade) lists are heavy with POC leads and the number of books about LGBTQ characters has doubled since the last few publishing seasons (and that’s just looking at books coming out—pun intended—between January and April! The list for May through June is even longer!). This is extra important when you consider that as recently as 2012, just over 1 percent of YA books had any LGBTQ content at all.
In 2016, Scholastic conducted a survey on over two thousand US children ages six to seventeen and found that when it came to reading, boys generally do not like it as much as girls do.
Young Adult literature, or YA, has been a genre dominated by white authors and characters, but this is changing. In the past couple years, two debut novels by African-American women have taken the YA world and bestseller lists by storm: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (2017) and The Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi (2018). If you haven’t read them yet, you should.