Genre tips

Today’s #AtoZChallenge: Young Adult

A to Z Challenge asks bloggers to post every day except Sundays during the month of April on a thematic topic–nothing else. This year, I’ll be covering writing genres. I apologize: This is a genre I have written about in the past though I hope much of this material is new. I just couldn’t come up with another Y genre!

Today’s genre:

atoz-yYoung Adult


novels, stories, poetry, and various non-fiction written for adolescents, the group somewhere between ‘children’ and ‘adults’

Tipsa to z

  1. ‘Coming of age’ stories are popular in YA, showing how a young adult deals with problems typical to that age group and ends up stronger and better for that struggle.
  2. Rachel Cohn estimates that 60 to 65 percent of YA fiction is written in the first person and present tense. Certainly not required.
  3. Pace is quicker than other genres.
  4. Includes lots of dialogue.
  5. Teens in the story often sound like adults but act like kids. The idea is that teens are intelligent and capable, just not as experienced.
  6. Includes what David Levithan calls an ’emotional truth’–the ah hah moment that makes the book resonate with young readers.
  7. Don’t be afraid to use pop culture, but be aware it could date it.
  8. There’s almost always an underlying optimism in YA–that things will work out, the world with survive, life will be better.
  9. This quote is attributed to Robert Heinlein, but he may not have said it: Write the best story you can and then take out all the sex.
  10. Nora Raleigh Baskin at Gotham Writers says, “In writing for young adults, do not write as an adult looking back.ourself in the teenage mind and often not caring much at all about the grown-up world.”

Popular Books

  1. Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  2. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
  3. The Outsiders by SE Hinton
  4. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  5. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
  6. Holes by Louis Sachar
  7. Matilda by Roald Dahl
  8. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
  9. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
  10. The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank

Click for complete list of genres

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, and the thriller, To Hunt a Sub. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer,  a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning. The sequel to To Hunt a Sub, Twenty-four Days, is scheduled for May, 2017. Click to follow its progress.

40 thoughts on “Today’s #AtoZChallenge: Young Adult

  1. Pingback: #AtoZChallenge: Genres–X, Y, and Z | WordDreams...

  2. Pingback: Today’s #AtoZChallenge: Genres–Yemenite Jewish Poetry | WordDreams...

  3. I call myself an omnivorous reader and I’ve read all the books on your list as an adult. I think the only one I first read as a teen is The Diary of Anne Frank. Since I work at a library, I’m exposed to all the genres, not just the particular shelves I might be drawn to in a book store. BTW – in our library the Harry Potter series is not shelved as a YA, but in the Children’s area as a J (for Juvenile). Of course, it was, and is, popular with adults and teens, so they are always surprised when I have to send them to the children’s shelves. S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders was actually written by a 16 year-old and is a wonderful book for reluctant readers. A remedial reading teacher I know uses it very successfully in her classes. She reads the first chapter aloud and then gives each student a paperback copy to take home. She tells them if they want to know what happens next they can read the second chapter on their own. Every day she reads a chapter aloud while the kids follow along in their own books. Her approach works so well, I know who is taking that class when they show up at the library wanting the next S.E. Hinton book. Kids who never came in before.

    Liked by 1 person

    • One of my blogging buddies provided a great reason to read YA that changed my mind. It’s not so much the words that are simpler, but the themes are different. She had a lot more depth, but that’s all I needed!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This is a list I can nod yes to quite happily, although I read quite a few of these tirles as an adult. Hunger Games have been watched as a film, so not sure I want to read the books.
    My favourite YA book is called, The room on the roof by Ruskin Bond. He’s an author who comes from my part of the world and he wrote this (his first book) when he was 17. It’s semi-autobiographical. It’s a fabulous read.
    Y is for Yellow

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Heinlein’s quote cracked me up, Jacqui. Probably a little more complicated than that, but still funny. The breadth of this category is interesting – Charlotte’s Web and Hunger Games – such different books in terms of violence. I guess that points back to the Heinlein quote: it all about sex. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve read nearly everything on your list (though not Hunger Games) and Susan Scott’s list. But I would not put many of these books in YA – Charlotte’s Web is a middle grade children’s book with a sophisticated theme, as are Phantom Toll Booth and L’Engle’s and Dahl’s books. I think the distinction has to include an age range, because many of these classic stories have been read by children from later elementary through middle school for decades. Capable readers but still kids. Perhaps it is the newer YA designation trying to fit books into the category.

    However, YA is a hugely growing genre with many titles legitimately stocked here – visit Barnes & Noble to note the size of the shelf space. A book I would add to YA is Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson which concerns a devastating situation many young girls face. Anderson’s book gives a voice to victims, and it’s Melinda’s courage of a difficult teen problem that really marks YA books. As you’ve noted before, the genre designations are somewhat arbitrary and are market driven.

    And then there is the even newer genre: New Adult! I’m just glad to see young people reading books. A great discussion here, Jacqui. You really open up the dialogue.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. There is so much written in the young adult genre, that repeating it is fine. I think the first one I read was “The Outsiders.” I’ll admit that I haven’t read “Hunger Games” yet, but at the rate I am reading at the moment, it’s on my list for late 2020…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Lovely post thanks Jacqui. Catcher in the Rye as Nilanjana says above. Both my sons read it as teenagers, I as an adult so many years ago.. They’ve both read ‘Holes’ as well I think. And definitely the CS Lewis’ one. Also Hemingway: The Old Man & the Sea; The Little Prince: St Exupery (?sp?) … both adult and young adult would relate in some way as well as being introduced to some of the greats. And of course, anything by Road Dahl. His ‘Boy’ (autobiographical) is a masterpiece.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Jacqui, a brilliant summary of a genre I’ve come to love – although I’m still ill at ease with it being labelled ‘Young Adult’ as I’m sure the title puts off many prospective readers who would enjoy a refreshing exciting and thought-provoking books. I’ve read most on your list apart from Harry Potter (sorry, all fans!). ‘Holes’ was amazing – broke the mould on so many levels and unexpected twists throughout. (And yeah, the film was just about as good!) Wishing you a lovely weekend! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Catcher in the Rye?

    Didn’t meet the genre when I was a YA Yonks ago…Bildunsroman and YA both terms I got introduced to much later …actually most of my reading is done w/o really knowing the exact genre…must become more genre-aware…already got a start thanks to this A-Z series here!


    Liked by 1 person

    • I didn’t used to care about the genre and then I realized that each had a different set of rules, and those predicted whether I’d like the book or not. Now, I avoid some and laser in on others.


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