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.
Audiobooks are all the rage in publishing right now. This Forbes article tells us that digital audiobook revenue rose 32.1 percent in 2018’s first quarter. People are turning to audiobooks to get their reading done more than ever. Below are my favorite young adult audiobooks I’ve listened to so far.
We need to be setting an example for future publishers—to strive for imperative community-building values that promote action and advocacy. If we’re not giving back to the communities that allow us to thrive, exciting children about books, helping provide them with the resources they need, promoting literacy, and, more importantly, giving them characters they can connect to on a deep and personal level and live their lives by—then what are we doing?
Empathy is not so much feeling something about a character, but feeling something with a character. It is not only being sorry for a character when they struggle and happy when they succeed—it’s about the reader experiencing those trials and victories as if they were their own. And when those trials and victories are rooted in immediate real-world issues, there’s more at stake than well-written characterization.