Progression of Young Adult Literature Over Time

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What defines young adult fiction? This is an elucidation that has evolved over many years of progression of theme and style. Young adult fiction has been a major genre impacting the lives of young people since the 1950’s. This genre has allowed for the shaping and challenging of young minds by containing subject matter that is relatable to its audience. It has impacted generations of young readers because it has unified them in the struggles that come along with transitioning into the adult world. The content of young adult fiction has been able to remain relevant throughout the years because it has shifted has our culture has shifted.
The genre of Young Adult Fiction first emerged in the midst of World War 2 when it became apparent that the adolescents of the United States were their own separate generation. The genre was first referred to as “Books for Young Persons”; however, the term “Young Adult Fiction” was coined in the 1960’s when it was chosen to describe literature written for 12-18 year olds. In 1942, Maureen Daly published Seventeenth Summer, and it became the first book written specifically for an audience of adolescent teenagers. Two novels followed shortly after that truly set the stage for the genre were published in the 1950’s. These were Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger (1951) and Lord of the Flies by William Golding (1954) . Although both have very different plot lines, they both intently discuss the philosophy of self discover and identification.
Although the content of this genre has been evolving in many different ways throughout the years, the most apparent change in Young Adult Literature has been the evolution of tone in the novels. YA (Young Adult) novels written in the 1950s embodied a straight ...

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... any challenging intellectual ideals. This statement could not be any farther from the truth. From the work out the brilliant SE Hinton in the 1950’s, who broke the mold of mundane literature and brought about new gritty subject matter to the Young Adult world, to the talented John Green, who eloquently describes the struggles of 21st century teenagers dealing with anything from substance abuse to cancerous disease, .Young Adult Fiction has inspired and will continue to inspire and challenge the youth. Young Adult literature has presented itself in a way that unites adolescents in all walks of life. It has challenged their minds in their philosophies of racism, sexism, sexuality, and equality. It also unites them in the struggle of peer pressure. May the continue to ever evolve and expand, and may the adult reader never be too sophisticated for a young adult novel.

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