Where Did YA Come From?
YA is written for and marketed to Young Adults between the age of 13 to 21. However, they aren't the only people who read YA literature. An article in 2012 in Publishers Weekly said that 55% of YA book sales were made by people over the age of 18, more specifically, between 30 and 44 years old. A more recent article in the Guardian claimed we all love YA literature because we can all identify with it. But where did 'Young Adult' books actually come from?
One of the first ever books written for Young Adults was The Outsiders, written by S. E. Hinton when she was just 16 years old and published in 1967. The classic YA book follows two groups of people: the Socs and the Greasers, who are separated by their socioeconomic status. When a murder of a Soc gets under the skin of Ponyboy, a loyal Greaser, he begins to learn some hard-hitting life lessons.
The 1970's - nicknamed the Golden age of YA literature - saw a huge rise in YA fiction as books moved from traditional children's books to stories for a more mature reader. Books like Forever by Judy Blume and Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews paved the way for a new genre aimed at teenagers. In the 1980's, the Sweet Valley High series by Francine Pascal became the first Young Adult book to reach the New York Times Bestsellers List. The 1990's saw the rise of the sub-genre YA Horror with the hugely popular Goosebumps series by R.L Stine. Less YA books were being published in the early 1990's, but this quickly changed a few years later as youth culture grew.
In the early 2000's, a wide variety of book awards were created purely to honour YA literature, including the Printz Award and the Edwards Award. At the same time, popular hits such as Twilight and The Hunger Games were released, causing a surge in Dystopian fiction. This time period has now become known as the second Golden age of YA literature and it is only growing year by year, with more book-to-screen adaptations such as The Fault in Our Stars hitting the big screens. Today, YA literature is selling more books than adult literature and with recent movie releases causing surges in book-selling, who knows what the future will hold for YA.