The History of YA Literature: Introduction

I looked up several articles on the history of YA Literature out of curiosity. I was surprised that this was not a big part of discussion in the book community, as it is a very fascinating topic.

A Brief History and Infographic:

According to Smithonsian, the term “young adult” began to be used by librarians around the 1940’s. The words “teenager” and “young adult” were both interchangeably when referencing the growing genre , until the late 1950’s. During this decade, The American Library Association created a Young Adult Services Division, which addressed the need for librarians to assist teens. Young Adult Literature began to prosper around the late 1960’s, with help from critically acclaimed works such as S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders.

Karen Jensen from Teen Library Box (A School Library Journal resource), created an infographic last year, which is below. This is an excellent, quick summary of key works. Due to the nature of infographics, it is not a full guide, but it is an great resource!

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Source: Karen Jensen

YA Literature’s Roots:

Believe it or not, YA Literature’s roots began as early as 1906! In this PBS video, there are additional details about YA Literature’s history. According to the video, New York Public Library was involved in shaping this genre. This really shows how librarians can make a major impact!

I may make more posts in the future on this topic as I gather more resources. I think that as readers, it is both important (and interesting), to know the history behind the genres we love!

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