How young is YA fiction?

How young is YA? Given that some fiction in this genre can be quite violent and sometimes hint at sex, what should the minimum age be? Fourteen upwards, sixteen upwards? The older end of that scale would seem about right to me.

Having said that, I read the other day that some publishers are going as young as nine upwards. That seems plain ridiculous to me. The genre is intended for young ADULTS, not for kids still in junior school.

How comfortable would a responsible parent be allowing their nine year old to read a book containing the aforementioned traits?

Not very, I suspect.


16 Responses to “How young is YA fiction?”

  1. I’ve had the same issue. I’ve been told YA is from 13-25? But when I was 13 I wasn’t thinking the way I was at 25. That being said I think the younger end of the spectrum don’t want to be called “middle graders” so that’s where the issue comes in. When it comes down to it if it’s a good book every age will read it.


  2. Thanks, Ryan. πŸ˜€


  3. Great post again, Kate.

    I’ve always believed YA to be 13-18 and have heard that from publishers and writers alike. But I think there’s got to be some flexiblility. Certainly thinking of the children I teach, age 12/13 upwards feels about right but YA could certainly go up 19/20 I should think, though 25 feels too old be classed as YA, to me that’s adult.

    Clear as mud, eh? πŸ˜€


  4. Ryan Holmes Says:

    Great post, Kate. I think you may be plucking a chord there. Personally, I am rather literal in my approach to classifications. That said, the classification is young adult. Here in the States one is not considered an adult until age 18. So, for me, young adult fiction would range from 18 to 29. I say 29 because once you hit 30 you’re really beginning the middle years of your adult life, thinking otherwise is just lying to yourself. Someone should distinguish a new genre – call it Teen Lit maybe. Still, Michel Prince is right. I enjoyed Harry Potter as an adult because it is well written.


    • I think the term YA is confusing. As you say anyone below the age of 18 is technically still a minor. πŸ˜€


      • Ryan Holmes Says:

        It makes better marketing sense to write for pre-teens and teens and then catalog it under a term like Young Adult. “If you read this you’re more mature,” it whispers to them.


  5. Yeah, that makes sense.


  6. I’d like to see publishers and booksellers begin to differentiate between teen lit and YA lit. As a mom and a writer, I see ages 12-15 (depending on maturity) as teen lit. 16-21 is Young Adult. This is only my opinion. There is too much of a gap between middle grade and YA and it seems children are being pushed toward ‘young adulthood’ at increasingly earlier ages.


    • And so the debate goes on. But will publishers take note?


      • Ryan Holmes Says:

        Publishers take note of book sales. One needs a great selling book to define a new genre, but the term Teen Lit seems to be catching on – at least on your wonderful blog, Kate. That’s a start!


  7. I believe, that as writers, we simply have to write the words that are screaming to come out. We can have an audience and a market in mind, but the world can tag the finished product with whatever labels it sees fit.

    I write with a wide age range in mind. Surface stuff for the younger set, deeper meanings for the more discerning.

    Hell, I like the category: “All Ages – Just Buy It” πŸ˜‰


  8. It’s a shame in a way, childhood is already so fleeting.


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