The History of YA Literature (Part Four)

Young Adult Readers of Today

Tracing the history of young adult literature is not a simple task. Throughout centuries, the roles of youth have changed drastically. Young adult fiction today is written, mainly, for teenagers who are dealing with current adolescent issues. An article from Pew Research shows that depression and anxiety tops the list of concerns for teens. In fact the article reports, “70% of teens saying that (anxiety and depression) is a major problem among the people their age in the community where they live” (Horowitz and Graff, 2019). Young adults today deal with the stress of constant social media, pressures of academic achievement, along with the development of their own identities. Not too mention, these students spend their elementary and high school careers practicing, not only disaster drills, but also lockdowns in preparation of a school shooter. This is a reality they live with every day, a fear they must face each time they enter the classroom. Young people are concerned with the state of our country, the inequalities that still exist, and are interested in improving the world. Here is a little bit more about what is going on with teenagers today.

Teens Dealing with Anxiety/Depression

Teens Organize Peaceful BLM Protest

Teens and March for Our Lives

YA Literature Now and The Future

Book publishers and authors hoping to respond to current young adult culture should look to publish diverse books that feature characters which identify with a variety of communities. Like much literature, historically, representation in YA literature has mostly been white and homogeneous. However, book creators are taking notice and the publishing statistics of 2020 will likely provide interesting numbers, especially after the recent Black Lives Matter protests, and the #metoo and LGBTQ+ advocacy movements. While providing young adult e-books is important, access e-audio is especially important. According to Pew Research, “There has been an uptick in the share of Americans who report listening to audiobooks, from 14% to 20%” (Perrin, 2019). Audiobooks are a great alternative for reluctant and struggling readers. Further, it often allows the opportunity to experience a story from the character’s unique “voice”.

YA Reading Recommendations


Biedenharn, I. (2017). S.E. Hinton on The Outsiders’ success: ‘It gave me writer’s block for four years’. Entertainment Weekly.


Bunyan, J. (1817). The pilgrims progress from this world to that which is to come: Delivered under the similitude of a dream. Philadelphia, PA: Jonathon Pounder.

Cart, M. (2009). Naming names. Booklist.

Coudert, A. (2005). Educating Girls in early modern Europe and America. De Grutyer.

Hazlitt, W.C. (ed.). (1899). Tales and legends of national origin or widely current from early times. London: Swan Sonnenschien.

Heilbrunn, J. (2018). How to replace anxiety with purpose. TEDxEncinitas. YouTube.

Horowitz, J.M. & Graff, N. (2019). Most U.S. teens anxiety and depression as a major problem among their peers: For boys and girls day-to-day experiences and future aspirations vary in key ways. Pew Research.

Jewitt, L. (ed.). (1896). The ballads & songs of Derbyshire. London: Bemrose and Sons.

Krischer, H. (2017). Why ‘The Outsiders’ lives on: A teenage novel turns 50. The New York Times.

Lang, J. (1905). Robinson, W.B. (illus.). Daniel Defoe: Robinson Crusoe as told to the children. New York, NY: E.P. Dutton & Co.

Leen, N. (1944). Teenage girls: They live in a wonderful world of their own. Life Magazine (17)24, (p. 91-99).

Leen, N. (1945). Teenage boys: Faced with war they are just the same as they’ve always been. Life Magazine (18)24, (Cover), (p.91-96).

Loveday, V. (2005). History Reference Center.

Orme, N. (2005). Historical essays: Childhood in Medieval England. Representing Childhood. University of Pittsburgh.

Perrin, A. One in five Americans now listen to audiobooks. Pew Research.

The Outsiders. Books.

The Outsiders: Movie: 1983.

The Outsiders: T.V. series: 1990″ .

Stephenson, D. (2011). History of children’s and young adult literature. Wolf, S., Coats, K., Enciso, P., Jenkins, C. (eds.) Handbook Research on Children’s and Young Adult Literature. New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group.

Swift, J. (1726). Travels into several remote nations of the world. In four parts. By Lemuel Gulliver, first surgeon, and then a captain of several ships. London. British LIbrary.

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