An interesting discussion came up recently on Facebook about what constitutes YA fiction.
When I was a teen, my library had children’s and adults. There was no YA section that I recall.
Sometime in the 90’s I ran across my first YA section in the library and had to ask the library what it was.
Interestingly enough, she couldn’t explain exactly what it was, just that it was books for older teens.
Skip forward and now YA seems to mean 13+ rather than 16+. The 16+ have become NA (New Adult) and 10-13 are Tweens.
Of course each publisher has their own criteria as to what fits into those categories. And self-published books are dependent on the author’s view.
It’s enough to make you’re head spin.
The simplest understanding that I have is that characters are generally 2 years older than the reading audience and YA covers topics that high school kids would generally deal with. NA covers topics of college age students and those on their own for the first time.
That leaves the door open for a huge range of topics, including sex, rape, drugs, violence and lots of other touchy subjects. But, these are subjects that teens do deal with. The problem is how those subjects are handled in the fiction.
I remember the “80’s satanic sex abuse crisis” when I was a young teen. There was an after school special about sex abuse. Books showed up in the library about the same subject. So, touchy subjects in fiction for teens is nothing new.
However, up until recently, parents could somewhat count on certain subjects, like sex, being discouraged in fiction for teen readers. Now, parents have to pretty much vet everything before their teens get their hands on the book. Or, hope and pray their children aren’t influenced by some of the garbage in today’s fiction.
Unless you have your child completely sheltered from the outside world (if that was even possible short of locking them in a cage), they will be exposed to books that won’t be vetted before hand.
The best thing to do is teach your child how to spot objectionable material. Encourage them to read books by authors you trust. And, ask your children about what they’re reading. When you can, read the books before your child does.
If you’re a Catholic parent, check out the Catholic Underground for books worth reading, sign up for Books For Catholic Teens B4CT News & Reviews newsletter, and join the B4CT Face Book group and talk first hand with the authors of fiction for Catholic teens.