Discussion: I am YA

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I’m not a teen anymore. I haven’t been for two years. I am friends with a lot of awesome people who haven’t been teens for awhile, and some brand new non-teens. We all enjoy YA. Duh, that’s why most of us have blogs, Youtube channels, snapchats, Instagram’s, and Twitter accounts dedicated to interacting and socializing with each other (fellow YA lovers) and the YA authors (who, for the most part, usually aren’t teens either).

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So, when my local independent bookstore had told me (and a couple other bloggers) a few months back that they were planning a Teen Book Con and would love to have us there, we were stoked! Come to find out, that they’re limiting the age to 19 year old’s and younger.

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On the very forefront, this says to me that anyone over the age of 19 (or if you’re not a teen) then you’re excluded from YA. Now I’m SURE that is not their intention at all (because let’s face it, they are usually pretty awesome). However, this does alienate an entire group of people who do not classify themselves as teens but still LOVE YA lit!

For me in particular, this really hit home because age classification in literature has always rubbed me the wrong way. In elementary through high school we had to take these tests that told us what our “reading level” was. Of course I always scored in the top percentile because I was always a very good reader. And there were usually those few parents lurking around that wanted to ban certain books from schools.

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One that stands out in particular was I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. Their reasoning? It dealt with rape and that wasn’t something kids in high school should be reading. How enraging is that? We can’t live in perfect little bubbles forever. That’s why college is such a huge wake up call to some people, and could potentially lead to MORE horrible assaults/crime since this stuff is actively hidden from teens.

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So, yes, I may not be a teen anymore. But I still love adventure, action, sappy high school romance stories, and reading books with teens! I recommend books to my parents ALL THE TIME that are classified as YA and they do the same for me. Segregating audiences is so harmful. Let people of all ages read whatever they want. Let them have the experiences that speak to them and warm their heart. Let them relate to these characters and allow them to have an opportunity to relate to someone who might over them solace when no one IRL can. But don’t limit YA to only teens because you no longer are a 19 year old. It’s just wrong.

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(I had to use this gif especially for you, Emily)

What do you think? Agree? Disagree? What’s your YA story? Leave me a comment!

19 Replies to “Discussion: I am YA”

  1. I totally agree ! Plus YA books out in the world today talk about several topics that would interest many people from all ages. To say that YA is ONLY for teens is like a punch to the face. Like, so when I turn 20 does that mean I can no longer touch YA ? Can I not love adorable, heartbreaking YA ? Just let us be, let us read what we want. YA to me just means that the main character is a teen. The story doesn’t have to be just for teens.

    1. I was thinking the same thing! At midnight on a 19 year olds birthday she’s supposed to suddenly be a completely different and changed person? Eurgh. I mean to a certain extent I still love some children’s books because they’re so darn cute and they have REALLY good messages in them (Harry Potter is a PERFECT example!)

  2. I loved this post! I agree that restricting books by age is ridiculous and you should have the freedom to read whatever you like. In elementary school we also had the reading levels and I remember being desperate to get mine high enough to check out The Order of the Pheonix from the library. It happened but not allowing a child to check a book out of the library just based on test taking skills is just plain unfair.

    1. And promotes discrimination and class-ism in books. What if kids want to challenge themselves? It’s just wrong that people limit kids (who are especially influential) to certain groups. What if that completely discourages them from trying to read at a higher level because they feel like they aren’t smart enough? *deep sigh* okay rant over.

  3. Yes to the tenth power! YA isn’t about the reader. YA is the story. The characters. The journey. The story construction. Do I love how passionate YA readers are about the books they read? Absolutely. But I also understand that they span the ages. Authors who think they are writing a YA for teens have already gotten it wrong and usually end up talking down to their audience. YA Authors write about teens experiencing everything life has to throw at them. I have teens of my own, but I still love YA.

    1. And as a personal fan of your YA novels (and as a non-teen) I love your stories because they can appeal to so many people and so many other authors do a really good job of this as well!

  4. Wow, this is completely absurd. Way to ostracize most of your market too… I forget the statistics, but aren’t most YA book readers actually adults?!

    1. Exactly! And I think so? I mean I get trying to encourage teens to read but don’t shut out an entire group that wants to share that love!

  5. Considering most YA readers are adults (I read an article somewhere that said something like 55% of the people who buy YA books are adults?), I think that’s a silly rule. I totally agree with you! I love YA, and I’m 21. 😡

    1. Considering I’m also 21 I could not agree with you more!

  6. […] younger readers that, instead of telling older readers, but Paige has done a great post about that here that you should check out. I am obviously not qualified to talk about that subject, but Paige does […]

  7. Hi Paige, 

    I’m both the incoming co-owner of Tattered Cover Bookstores (the indie store in question in your blog post), as well as a published author of young adult fiction (The Scar Boys, Scar Girl, and the forthcoming Life in a Fishbowl) I hope you don’t mind me responding to this post, as I thought I should explain why Tattered Cover has organized the Colorado Teen Book Con in the way we have. 

    Before I do, let me say a big THANK YOU for the post. I really love the passion you show for literature and especially YA lit. I also share your frustration with rigid lines put around genre. There are great books published for adults that should be read by teens, and great books published for teens that should be read by adults. The list is really, really long. 

    As you know, Tattered Cover already hosts a wealth of events — 500 or so a year — including many events for authors of YA fiction. YA events this past year have included: Sarah J. Maas, Jess Brody, Brenna Yovanoff, Chris Howard, the Boldly Bookish Tour, John Corey Whaley, and many, many more. These events are open to, and marketed to, all audiences. 

    So why, then is Tattered Cover restricting Teen Book Con to teens only? The truth is, we haven’t set out create YA lit event. We’ve set out to create a book event for teens. Since my wife and I have joined the general management team at Tattered Cover — we’re in the midst of a two year ownership transition with the long-time owner Joyce Meskis — we have put a tremendous effort into encouraging and nurturing teen readers. We have launched teen advisory boards in two of our stores (Colfax and Aspen Grove), we started placing authors in middle schools and high schools, and yes, we’re launching this conference. 

    We are loosely modeling Teen Book Con on one of the most well-respected teen cons in the country, the Houston Teen Book Con, sponsored by Blue Willow Bookshop each April. That event, which I’ve attended as an author, is a teen-focused event. 

    Also, this is our first year, and we’re hoping to learn from it. We’ll reevaluate everything for next year. 

    Now, all that said, your post did bring two things to our attention:

    1. We had not yet made our specific plans to invite media to Teen Book Con, but will now be sure to include a few of the media passes for bloggers and BookTubers. (Contact us separately if you’d like to be considered for one of those passes…)

    2. We will figure out how to do more for adult readers of teen fiction. I’m not sure what that will be yet, but we’re definitely open to suggestions, so please, we want to hear from you!

    Anyway, thanks again for the post, and thanks for allowing me a chance to answer. I hope this helps explain our rationale. 

    1. Hi Len thanks for your comment!

      I completely understand that this is the first year of the event and there might be a few bumps along the way. I have been to multiple other teen events before in other areas and no one is perfect!

      That being said, thank you for all the other events that Tattered Cover takes the time to put on as well. I have gone to dozens of your author signings and they have always been so much fun as well as an excellent opportunity to meet new people and, above all, show our appreciation to the authors and you, as a store!

      If you need any help with future events as well, please don’t hesitate to contact me (which all my information can be found in my Contact Me page). But thank you again for all that you do, and for taking the time to respond. I really appreciate it!

      1. Hi Paige,

        So after you and some of your followers expressed disappointment that the Colorado Teen Book Con (hosted by Tattered Cover) was for teens only, we decided to go back to the drawing board. While we haven’t changed the parameters of that event, we have added a new, exclusive event for adults (age 21 and over) the night before. On Friday, October 14 (7-8:30p), we’re hosting a YA Author Happy Hour at the Tattered Cover Aspen Grove, and are selling a limited number of tickets. We expect almost all 22 of the authors to be there. (One or two might miss it.)

        The tix are $10 each, and that $10 can be put toward the purchase of a book. There will be booze at the event, so you have to be at least 21 to attend. (We will be carding.) And there a limited # of tickets available. Here’s the link for tix: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ya-author-happy-hour-tickets-27714281161. Feel free to share with your readers! (I hope you don’t mind me sharing here, but I know you were interested.)

        Let me know if you have any questions… Thanks!
        Len

  8. […] Paige at The Paige-Turner – I am YA […]

  9. I AGREE WITH YOU WITH ALL OF THESE, PAIGE! It’s really excruciating to hear people that I should read textbooks instead of fiction books (mostly they’re my college instructors). ARGH. That’s why I read my books in the library, on the corner of the lib where they can’t see me!

  10. […] claims that she is YA despite not being a teen in a great […]

  11. Agreed on this. I’m actually 19 years old and a college senior kid and everytime I came across reading contemporary books and there is a romance there – DANG! the emotions. It feels nostalgic and I miss those times I had during High School years. I am also quite shocked when I found out in US there is a Book Ban Month because as far as I know , in the Philippines it hasn’t.

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