Why Write YA? Why Not Write “Real Books”?

There’s a great post over at YA Highway written by Kristin Miller, YA Inferior?, that really got me thinking:

A recent Publisher’s Weekly article discusses some of the big children’s titles that were being buzzed about at Mid-June’s Winter Institute. We were excited to see YA Highway friend Vernoica Roth noted for DIVERGENT, the first book in her new series. Yay Veronica!

Later in the article, however, we were disappointed with a comment made by a New England bookseller and co-chair of the New England Children’s Booksellers’ Association. From the article:

“The other, Judy Blundell’s Strings Attached (Scholastic), is so well-written, says Hermans, that it could be shelved with adult titles.”

Which leads to my question for today: why write YA? Why not write “real books”?

All I know is, YA and children’s books shaped me as a reader, a writer, a thinker, a human being.

That’s why *I* write YA. I want to serve — to help shape, enlighten, champion, comfort, applaud, reassure young people as they grow into adults in this often unfair, cruel, confusing and dark world.

I don’t care what anyone else thinks. I see YA as a noble pursuit that remains a noble pursuit regardless of others’ misinterpretations or misguided attempts (intended or otherwise) to portray it as less than it is: a valid, vital form of literature.

When I think of the books I love most in the world, that unleash(ed) that reading journey of magic and wonder, self-discovery and growth, it’s the titles of my childhood and young adult years that always come to mind, continuing to warm my heart and make me smile.

I can’t think of a more worthwhile pursuit than helping those tender, growing shoots of humanity find their way in this world, hearts touched and minds understood and, with a book in their hands, never EVER alone.

I believe there’s so much magic to be found in YA because those years *are* the magic years: the years of stunning, shiny firsts.

Writing YA, good YA, takes three things: heart, honesty, and a willingness not to look the other way.

What about you? Why do YOU write YA?

6 Responses

  1. Thanks for your blog response to my post. This is amazing! I feel the same way about the books that shaped my love for reading, about how much I love “self-discovery and growth,” and about how YA is noble. We are writing real books for a real readership–and a “real important” readership. Keep being awesome.

  2. You’re so welcome, Kristin.

    Thanks so much for stopping by, and for your comment!

    This line you wrote really resonated:

    “We are writing real books for a real readership–and a “real important” readership.”

    I couldn’t agree more.

    Em (a big YA Highway fan! Love your blog. : )

  3. Hey Em,

    I have such wonderful memories of the books I read as a kid. And, many are even more delightful when reread today as an adult.

    There are always people out there who feel the need to knock something. Best to just ignore them.

  4. Hey Tash.

    I find the view of YA as less, by some, interesting. I’ve never thought about it that way, myself.

    Writing a great, solid manuscript is hard work — a labor of love — which doesn’t discriminate according to category or genre. We all write, edit, rewrite, polish, tweak.

    All I have to do is think of the hours of sweat I’ve invested into my finished ms’s, and I know the truth.


  5. It’s nice to see that literary snobbery is alive and well. Not that I was in any doubt, since that has been the attitude toward all genre fiction since as long as there has been genre. But brava to you for not bowing to that attitude.

  6. Smiled to see you, Tara! : )

    As for your comment, very true. The funny thing for me is that I didn’t know before lately that there was prejudice held by some toward different catagories of writing. I just figured we write what we’re interested in writing.

    Some of the snobbery puzzles me, too, in that I think children and young adults are so important, along with the mediums that shape their minds and lives.


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