Why is it called young adult fiction? Young adult fiction or YA fiction is thus known because it features a teenage protagonist, pre-teen in some cases (as we know, the Harry Potter series begins around Harry’s eleventh birthday).

Book covers Harry Potter series

What Age Are YA (Young Adult) Books For?

An article titled How young adult fiction has transformed over the past 50 years by Angela Haupt published by Independent, a UK news website states that YA books are generally aimed at kids between the ages of 12 to 18. However, this is a genre popular among people of all ages. Young adult literature is something that “older” adults can also relate to. Why? Because apart from having adult themes, it also lets us re-live our youth, reminisce about the time in our lives that we had less responsibilities and obligations, and in most cases, it enables us to combine that with a bit of magic, fantasy, and adventure.

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Harry Potter action figure with book background - Photo credit Maurygraf from Pixabay

When Did Young Adult Literature Become A Thing?

Although popular YA fiction has existed from the late 1920’s and early 1930’s with series such as The Hardy Boys (written by multiple writers under the pseudonym Franklin W. Dixon) and Nancy Drew (written by multiple authors under the pseudonym Carolyn Keene) featuring sleuthing teenagers, an article titled “A brief history of young adult literature” by Ashley Strickland published on the CNN news website mentions that the term young adult was coined in the 1960’s by the Young Adult Library Services Association.

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The article also mentions that the novels at the time, particularly The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton, covered real issues faced by teens and since paved the way for other writers to follow in its footsteps. However, Seventeenth Summer by Maureen Daly from the 40’s and The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger from the 50’s are also noteworthy. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume was a best-seller in the YA fiction category in the 70’s.

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YA fiction that was popular back in the 80’s included The Baby-sitter’s Club by Ann M. Martin, Sweet Valley High by Francine Pascal, and Fear Street by R. L. Stine. Then, of course, the late 90’s brought us Harry Potter. People all over the world followed the tale of Harry Potter into the mid to late 2000’s which also welcomed the Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer.

The end of the 2000’s brought us The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. That, my dear readers was the golden age of YA fiction. This is when YA literature reached its peak performance and has done quite well ever since, with so many sub-genre’s that have evolved over the last century. The last decade has brought us many titles in the YA fiction genre, such as the Divergent series by Veronica Roth, The Fault in our Stars by John Green (stand-alone novel) and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (series) by Jenny Han, but none have had the level of success that could rival the 2000’s.

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Book Cover Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

What Are The Best Young Adult Books Through The Ages?

Here’s a quick list summarizing the YA books through the ages mentioned within this article:

  1. 1920’s – The Hardy Boys by Franklin W. Dickson
  2. 1930’s – Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene
  3. 1940’s – Seventeenth Summer by Maureen Daly
  4. 1950’s – The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
  5. 1960’s – The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
  6. 1970’s – Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
  7. 1980’s – The Baby-sitter’s Club by Ann M. Martin
  8. 1980’s – Sweet Valley High by Francine Pascal
  9. 1980’s – Fear Street by R. L. Stine
  10. 1990’s & 2000’s – Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling
  11. 2000’s – Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
  12. 2000’s – The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  13. 2010’s – Divergent by Veronica Roth
  14. 2010’s – The Fault in our Stars by John Green
  15. 2010’s – To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
  16. 2020’s – A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow
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As we’ve only just begun the 2020’s, I eagerly await the next best-selling YA fiction.

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