It’s no secret that today’s adolescents have many pressures pressing down on them from every side. Some in an effort to either escape, look for answers, or validate that what they’re going through is normal, turn to literature. Because of this, it is no wonder that adolescent literature has become such a hot market.
According to the article A Brief History of Young Adult Literature, the first time books were directly marketed to teenagers was at the turn of the millennium. In the article they attributed this as a result of the baby boom of the 1992. While I do agree that having many more teens growing up during the millennium would correspond to the increased marketing of this age group, one also has to wonder if another correlation could be connected to the emergence of technology. Technology was just starting to grasp the American public and for the first time, teenagers were able to be connected in a way they had never before. Now more than ever, teens could see what others’ lives were like; and for good or bad, they could project that onto themselves. With this new information, teenagers were more now than ever in need of connecting to themes that were present in YA Literature.
I know that there are people who believe that contemporary YA Literature is basically “junk” and that it has no other redeeming qualities besides pure entertainment. I do agree with Shannon Hale’s article The Young Adult Book Tropes that Ate the World when she says that those that criticize the themes of YA Literature are basically criticizing teenagers themselves. These books are written in a way that teens are able to relate them to their own lives. In some instances, these may be the only connection that a teen has to what is happening with them. These books can be the “hope” that shows the teenager that everything will turn out alright.
One thing that I really like about contemporary YA Literature is the fact that there is an abundance of genre to reach every teen if they are so inclined. I enjoyed reading the categories and sample books from the article Crash Course in YA Trends. I was surprised to see that as of 2015, there had been a decline in dystopian novels. I know from my own classroom, many of the students are still very much engaged in that particular genre. Also, I didn’t know that there were ‘retellings’ of classical novels. I remember one of my students reading Cinder by Marissa Meyer, but I did not have any idea that was a retelling of Cinderella.
I am excited to read different genre of YA Literature this year. I have to admit that the majority of YA books that I have read are either dystopian, fantasy, or supernatural. I don’t think I have ever read a non-fiction YA book. If I had to pick an area of expertise, I would have to pick dystopian. If only because it is the area that I am most familiar.
By reading all types of genre this semester, I feel this is going to help me be able to better recommend books for my students and help me to better match books to students’ interests. Another thing I would like to be able to do is figure out how to get more of the reluctant readers engaged in reading. I have tried book talks, book trailers, passage read-alouds, and book speed-dating but still have some students who absolutely refuse to read a book. How do we reach those students?