Tuesday 3 June 2008

Teens Do Read - Take That, Anti-Hoody People!

As the mother of two hoodies, I take exception to frequent put-downs of teenagers - the sort that reduce their complexity to 'feral thugs who live on advertising jingles and drugs'.

So you can imagine my urge to say I TOLD YEW SO when Newsweek declared that teen writing is the 'one bright spot' in a flat children's publishing market.
Contrary to the depressing proclamations that American teens aren't reading, the surprising truth is they are reading novels in unprecedented numbers. Young-adult fiction (ages 12-18) is enjoying a bona fide boom with sales up more than 25 percent in the past few years, according to a Children's Book Council sales survey. Virtually every major publishing house now has a teen imprint, many bookstores and libraries have created teen reading groups and an infusion of talented new authors has energized the genre.
Libraries and booksellers are taking teenage books out of the kiddy section and putting them in their own spaces.

YA Author (and executive editorial director of Scholastic Inc) David Leviathan goes so far as to call it a 'second golden age'. This, he says, is the "most exciting time for young-adult literature since the late 1960s and 1970s when 'The Chocolate War' [by Robert Cormier] and 'Forever' [by Judy Blume] were published."


Leviathan and others point to the increased sophistication and emotional maturity of teenagers as well as the fact that:
... young-adult books are simply better and more diverse than ever, and readers are responding.
I guess it's a double edged sword.

On the one hand, the books are better, the kids are reading more. On the other hand, kids are turning to books partly to escape the fact that contemporary teenage life is more challenging and more stressful.

What can we do?

Write better. Write well. They so deserve it.

(Important Question: Will the good news trickle across the Atlantic to the UK?)

Thanks to Achockablog for the heads-up.


  1. Whoohoo, just the kind of news I like to hear. I've long believed that there is a huge teenage market that is all too easily dismissed - it really remains a point of how you reach that market - I've never doubted it was there and this simply confirms it. Right, now let me get those submissions rolling!

  2. A few weeks ago, there was a big discussion on the british scbwi message board about YA and teen genres and how booksellers needed to differentiate the teens from other children's age ranges.

    Looks like the Americans got there first and are reaping the dividends.


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